Establishing a Captive Breeding Facility for Amphibians

The area around the village of Andasibe in east-central Madagascar is one of the world’s true amphibian biodiversity hotspots. At least 100 species of frogs are found within a 30 km radius of town. The community-run conservation organization Mitsinjo (www.mitsinjo.org) is developing a biosecure captive breeding facility for amphibian species from this area.

The captive breeding facility at the end of construction in March, 2011

 

This facility will aide conservation efforts in Madagascar by 1) conducting husbandry research on frog species from varied ecological guilds which have never been kept or bred in captivity before 2) managing captive assurance populations of local threatened species so reintroduction or supplementation programs can be developed as needed and 3) training future Malagasy amphibian conservationists in frog husbandry skills so other facilities can be established elsewhere in Madagascar.  

Heterixalus betsileo, one of four initial target species being used for training

The Mitsinjo facility, which was constructed between November 2010 and March 2011, measures 185 m2 and contains separate rooms for live food production, captive frog populations, and quarantine. Live foods include three species of cricket, a fruit fly, and a cockroach, which have all been sourced locally from around Andasibe. Production of live foods is central to the success of the project, and technicians are currently working to breed additional invertebrates to diversify the diets of the captive amphibians.

A breeding setup for crickets

  For training purposes, four locally common frog species are being kept: Blommersia blommersae, Boophis pyrrhus, Heterixalus betsileo, and Mantidactylus betsileanus. These initial target species will not only provide technicians with experience keeping frogs with varied life histories, but also will provide an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about the captive care requirements of frogs which have never before been kept in captivity. Already, breeding success has been had with Boophis pyrrhus and Mantidactylus betsileanus. Future species will be enrolled in the program throughout the last part of 2011 and into 2012. This project is supported by Amphibian Ark, which is the ex-situ branch of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund. The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland Zoological Society, Woodland Park Zoo, and Tree Walker’s International have generously provided funding for husbandry training during 2011. Mitsinjo now seeks support to continue the project into the future, working to expand technician training and develop conservation breeding programs for local threatened frog species. Project contact: mitsinjo (at) hotmail.com / devin (at) amphibiancare.com  
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