8 November 2019

Juvenile frogs released in Namadgi to fight their greatest villain

| Lachlan Roberts
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Frogs released into the wild

The captive-bred frogs have been released into breeding sites. Photos: Supplied.

Six hundred juvenile Northern Corroboree Frogs, which are listed as critically endangered in ACT, have been released into sphagnum moss breeding sites in Namadgi National Park to learn to fight one of their greatest enemies.

Only found in the Brindabella Ranges in the ACT, and in the Bogong Mountains and Fiery Ranges in NSW, scientists hope the new clan of frogs learn to develop natural disease resistance to Amphibian Chytrid Fungus, the main cause of their declining population.

The fungus invades the surface layers of the frog’s skin, causing damage to the outer keratin layer. It is not yet known exactly how the fungus kills amphibians but it is thought that it may cause mortality through disrupting the normal function of the skin, which regulates respiration, water and electrolytes.

Scientists releasing the frogs

Scientists hope the new clan of frogs learn to develop a resistance to a killer fungus.

There were once abundant numbers of the Northern Corroboree frogs in the nation’s capital but over the past 30 years their numbers have declined to such an extent that they are now on the verge of extinction in the wild.

As part of the National Recovery Program, in 2003 the ACT Government established a captive-bred colony of Northern Corroboree Frogs at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve from eggs collected in the wild.

Since 2011, the breeding program has helped release hundreds of captive-bred Northern Corroboree Frogs back into the fragile wetland ecosystems.

The Northern Corroboree frog

The Northern Corroboree frogs are magnificently coloured but perfectly camouflaged.

ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said the new release of juvenile Northern Corroboree frogs is the latest step in the government’s action plan to protect the species.

“This release builds on the successful release of more than 1000 eggs into key monitoring sites earlier in the year,” he said. “A previous release from Tidbinbilla’s Northern Corroboree Frog captive breeding program has resulted in several frogs reaching breeding age and at least one pair successfully breeding.

“While wild population numbers of the frogs remain low, results of the program have been encouraging.”

The ACT Government’s next step in the recovery program is to construct five large outdoor enclosures at Tidbinbilla to raise and breed Northern Corroboree Frogs in conditions that more closely resemble what the frogs experience in the wild.

Six hundred Northern Corroboree frogs are being released

The clan of 600 will help Northern Corroboree frogs thrive in the ACT.

For more information on Canberra’s endangered Northern Corroboree Frog, click here.

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