Zoo Med Amphibian Academy ScholarshipIn collaboration with the Amphibian Ark, Zoo Med is proud to announce and congratulate Justin Claude Rakotoarisoa for receiving Zoo Med's Amphibian Academy Scholarship. The $3,000 scholarship is supporting Justin Claude Rakotoarisoa from Association Mitsinjo in Andasibe, Madagascar to attend the Amphibian Academy in Toledo. Justin has served as the Conservation Officer at Association Mitsinjo for more than eight years, and is currently the Lead Technician at the amphibian captive breeding facility, where he is implementing captive breeding programs for some of Madagascar’s most threatened amphibians species.
Justin Claude will take the knowledge and expertise he gains from the Academy back to the Mitsinjo Center in Madagascar that will help he and his colleagues to better serve amphibians there.
To learn more about the Amphibian Academy, visit Amphibian Ark by clicking the "Learn More" button!
Learn more about Justin's work at the Mitsinjo Center in Madagascar from this reposted article from Amphibian Ark News
Breeding Golden Frogs in Madagascar
From the Amphibian Ark News Letter March 2013
Association Mitsinjo, www.mitsinjo.org, Andasibe, Madagascar
Mantella aurantiaca is one of Madagascar’s most threatened amphibian species (IUCN Critically Endangered). There are barely two dozen documented breeding sites, all of which are known from small areas to the northeast and southwest of the city of Moramanga in the remnant eastern forest corridor. Due to their vibrant aposematic coloration, M. aurantiaca are highly valued in the international pet trade and are still collected annually by the hundred for export. Their remaining habitat is under tremendous threat from agriculture, livestock grazing, logging, charcoal production, and mining activities. Additionally, the ongoing effects of climate change are also a large concern considering its extremely restricted distribution and altitudinal range. Fortunately, infectious diseases such as amphibian chytrid have not yet been detected in Madagascar and so for the time being it seems the golden mantella frog has been spared from one potential threat.
To safeguard against extinction and help mitigate the loss of M. aurantiaca breeding sites found on the footprint of the recently established Ambatovy Nickel and Cobalt Mine, a captive assurance population of the golden mantella frog was established at the Mitsinjo amphibian captive breeding facility in February 2012. The breeding facility is located near the village of Andasibe, less than 20 km from the site where founders were collected.
The frogs are maintained by a team of eight Mitsinjo technicians who spent more than 18 months of training in amphibian husbandry and live food culturing techniques prior to working with Mantella. The official launch of the Mitsinjo captive breeding facility was in April, 2011 through a Contract of Collaboration with the Malagasy Direction Générale des Forêts and the IUCN / SSC Amphibian Specialist Group of Madagascar. Both collaborators monitor work at the breeding facility monthly. The project is part of the national strategy for amphibian conservation in Madagascar known as the Sahonagasy Action Plan, which calls for building capacity to address threats facing the frogs of Madagascar through ex situ means.
Captive-bred mantella are being screened for diseases and will be used to augment populations of M. aurantiaca translocated from the mine footprint to receptor sites in the surrounding conservation zone.
Initially, the 162 M. aurantiaca collected were housed individually or in male-female pairs in a quarantine room for 60-days, isolated from other captive frogs. All other frog species housed at the breeding facility are from the surrounding area, helping reduce the risk of foreign pathogens being introduced to the assurance population of Mantella. During quarantine, the body condition of each individual frog was carefully monitored and the weight was recorded upon entry, exit, and at 20-day intervals in between.
Following quarantine, 25 breeding groups were established in separate terraria measuring 60L x 40D x 45H cm, with group size varying from 3 males and 2 females to 6 males and 3 females. Breeding started soon after establishing groups and the first eggs were discovered in late June, 2012. Since then more than 140 egg clutches have been produced with all 25 established groups producing fertile eggs. Offspring from 13 different groups have been held back to help maintain the captive population throughout the lifespan of the project, which is for a maximum of 10 years.
In January 2013 the first set of disease screening was carried out to assure the health of the population prior to releasing captive stock. The frogs were swabbed for amphibian chytrid, necropsies were performed on two individuals that had died, and tissue samples were taken for analysis at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Additionally, a local veterinarian from the Ambatovy mining project was trained in basic amphibian medicine and Mitsinjo technicians learned how to use a microscope and examine frog feces for internal parasites.
This is the first project of its kind in Madagascar and we are hopeful it will serve as an example of effective ex situ amphibian conservation for future programs elsewhere in Madagascar and throughout the world.
Mitsinjo wishes to acknowledge the organizations which have financially supported the work at the captive breeding facility: Amphibian Ark Seed Grant, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund, Ambatovy Minerals S. A., the Wildlife Conservation Society, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Africa Seed Grant, Tree Walkers International Amphibian Conservation Partnership Fund, Biopat, Understory Enterprises, American Frog Day, Conservation International, Toronto Zoo, Puget Sound Chapter of AAZK, and Woodland Park Zoo.