Montserrat is a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean. It is part of the Leeward Islands, the northern portion of the Lesser Antilles chain of the West Indies. Montserrat is about 16 km long and 11 km wide, with roughly 40 km of coastline.
Montserrat, like many isolated islands, is home to rare, endemic plant and animal species. Work undertaken by the Montserrat National Trust in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has centred on the conservation of pribby in the Centre Hills region. Until 2006, this species was known only from one book about the vegetation of Montserrat. In 2006, conservationists also rescued several plants of the endangered Montserrat orchid from dead trees on the island and installed them in the security of the island's botanic garden.
Montserrat is also home to the critically endangered giant ditch frog, known locally as the mountain chicken, found only in Montserrat and Dominica. The species has undergone catastrophic declines due to the amphibian disease Chytridiomycosis and the volcanic eruption in 1997. Experts from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have been working with the Montserrat Department of Environment to conserve the frog in-situ in a project called 'Saving the Mountain Chicken', and an ex-situ captive breeding population has been set up in partnership with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Zoological Society of London, Chester Zoo, Parken Zoo, and the Governments of Montserrat and Dominica. Releases from this programme have already taken place in a hope to increase the numbers of the frog and reduce extinction risk from Chytridiomycosis.
The national bird is the endemic Montserrat oriole, The IUCN Red List classifies it as vulnerable, having previously listed it as critically endangered. Captive populations are held in several zoos in the UK including: Chester Zoo, London Zoo, Jersey Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo.
The Montserrat galliwasp, a type of lizard, is endemic to Montserrat and is listed on the IUCN Red List as critically endangered. A species action plan has been developed for this species.
Researchers from Montana State University found that the invertebrate fauna was particularly rich on the island. The report found that the number of invertebrate species known to occur in Montserrat is 1241. The number of known beetle species is 718 species from 63 families. It is estimated that 120 invertebrates are endemic to Montserrat.
Montserrat is known for its coral reefs and its caves along the shore. These caves house many species of bats, and efforts are underway to monitor and protect the ten species of bats from extinction.
The Montserrat tarantula is the only species of tarantula native to the island. It was first bred in captivity at the Chester Zoo in August 2016.