State of the Environment Report 2007
Snapshot: Saving the Corroboree Frog from croaking it!
Northern Corroboree Frogs occur only in higher areas of Namadgi and Kosciusko National Parks, in bogs and seepage areas. In response to severe, ongoing population decline, the ACT government established a captive population in 2003, aiming to prevent extinction and help maintain our biodiversity.
Corroboree Frogs in Namadgi declined from thousands in the 1980’s to under 200 in 2007, heading perhaps for extinction within 10 years. The main cause was an introduced fungal disease plus dry years.
A captive population was established at Tidbinbilla by collecting eggs from the wild between 2003 and 2006. This successful program boosted egg survival from under 20% in the wild to near 90% in captivity, resulting in around 1400 frogs in a disease-free quarantine facility.
The first generation has reached breeding age and the challenge now is to get them to breed in captivity. That will be difficult given the Corroboree Frog’s specialised habitat requirements. They lay eggs above water in a nest in moist moss. So, artificial sphagnum bogs will be created and the natural regimes of rainfall, temperature and food will be simulated.
The wisdom of promptly establishing a captive population is being proven since there are now too few wild frogs in the ACT to collect eggs for a captive population. The lesson learnt is that early response to an ecological problem can make the difference between success or failure.
The breeding challenges must be overcome because boosting wild population numbers will buffer Corroboree Frogs from environmental fluctuations and give a chance for disease resistance to develop. It is hoped to rear captive bred frogs that can be released successfully in to the wild within a few years.
The decline of these pretty creatures typifies the threat that our human actions can pose to all our fellow passengers on planet Earth. Can we keep Corroboree Frogs dancing in our hills? It’s well worth putting our best foot forward.