Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New National Dish for Dominica?

If you are from Dominica or have heard of my island then you probably have heard a small fact that Dominica's national dish is the crapaud (frog). The frog is also a part of the Coat of Arms of Dominica also indicating its importance to Dominican culture, but what is not widely known is that this frog (Leptodactylus fallax) is under the threat of extinction.

Immediately one would think then why are Dominicans eating out their frogs but this extinction isn't the cause of human action, it is because of the action of a fungal disease (Chytridiomcosis) that infects the skins of frogs and other amphibians. It is only seen under a microscope and can cause skin sores, reddening and shedding of the skin.

But how was disease spotted?

It was noticed about ten years ago that over collection of the Crapaud (mainly to feed tourists) had started to lead to a declining population. Then, in 2002, the people of Galion started reporting to the Forestry and Wildlife department in Roseau that they were finding many sick and dead Crapaud. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), United Kingdom, were able to confirm that a deadly fungus was killing the Crapaud.

If left to fend for themselves, the Dominican Crapaud will almost certainly become extinct with time. At present, only a handful of them in a few isolated locations remain on the western side of the island. If future generations of Dominicans are to enjoy the Crapaud, the remaining population must be left alone. This animal is truly a national treasure, and it will be sad to see it disappear.

What are the consequences of losing the Crapaud forever?

Well, the Crapaud plays a very important role in Dominica’s rich and complex ecosystem. It eats a lot of things, and lots of things eat it. It is what ecologists refer to as a ‘keystone’ species. Remove a keystone from a building and the whole thing collapses. And the same may happen if the Crapaud disappears. Many of you will already have noticed the increase in insects in and around your home. Think about what used to eat these insects before! Dominica is known as the ‘Nature Island,’ and we don’t want that to change. Although hard to imagine, losing the Crapaud could have grave consequences for Dominican wildlife as a whole.

So what can you do to help?

Well, first of all, please do not eat the Crapaud! Also, please discourage your friends and neighbours from eating the Crapaud. Simply by touching the frogs could lead to the spread of the disease. Although it is now illegal to eat or even possess the Crapaud, we must all try to remember that the few remaining frogs will provide the offspring that can potentially be collected in the future. The goal isn’t to stop people enjoying the Crapaud forever, it is just a short term solution, until the populations can recover and grow. And every Dominican can play a part! That includes you!

If you come across a Crapaud, please help us by reporting it to the Forestry and Wildlife Division, Botanical Gardens, Roseau. Tel: 448 2401 ext 3416/3417 or Email: /

Excerpts taken from a Press Release by BY DR. IAN STEPHEN – ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, 28th November, 2008

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Very interesting & informative post...