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An Update from Jamaica

Hi, my name is Chris Ward! I’m an undergraduate at the University of Manchester and I’m currently volunteering in the Jamaican rainforest at the Windsor Research Centre for my ‘year in industry’ (just down the road from the house where Usain Bolt grew up). We had no TV at home when I was young, so I spent most of my time outdoors. I used to build dens, climb trees, and catch frogs – a passion which has stuck with me ever since.

Myself with a  Jamaican yellow boa (Epicrates subflavus).

Myself with a snoring frog (osteopilus crucialis)

Jamaica’s flora and fauna are extremely diverse, with many different endemic species including over 500 ferns, over 500 snails, 28 bird species, 9 species of snake and 21 species of frogs. Unfortunately since being documented, there’s been very little research on the ecology of these species and it is quite possible that several of these species could go extinct before we know anything about them.

Snoring frog (Osteopilus crucialis) in hand

Snoring frog (Osteopilus crucialis) in hand

I’m running several projects to make a start on fixing that and I’m particularly interested in the Jamaican Laughing Frog (Osteopilus brunneus) and the Jamaican Yellow-Bellied Frog (Eleutherodactylus pantone). I recently wrote an article in FrogLog, the IUCN Amphian Survival Alliance’s newsletter about the ongoing projects developed by the Windsor Research Centre – you can read the article here http://www.amphibians.org/froglog/fl109 and find out more about the centre from their website here http://www.cockpitcountry.com/.

The rainforest here is under serious threat mainly from mining alumina and bauxite, Jamaica’s top export (both sources of aluminium). Although some areas here are listed as important for biodiversity, most receive little to no protection from the Government. Even in protected areas, that protection isn’t enforced. Whilst I learn the ropes in my first field season, I will be working closely with birds, snakes, butterflies and of course, frogs. My task is to document as much as I can about these important animals in the time they have left and I look forward to sharing some of my experiences with you.

Till next time!

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