Keepers from Taronga Zoo recently returned from Kosciuszko National Park where they released hundreds of Southern Corroboree Frog eggs after another successful breeding season.
This latest release was undertaken alongside Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
The Southern Corroboree Frog is one of Australia’s most threatened animals, with less than 50 individuals estimated to remain at wild sites.
During the 2014 season, only 6 calling males could be detected at all historic sites, and 12 at introduced sites, with no breeding recorded in their nests. Their decline is due to disease caused by the introduced pathogen, chytrid fungus.
To enable the frogs to survive in the wild, a number of new strategies have been trialled in recent years. This has included the creation of habitat within two large, frog-proof fenced areas that are designed to keep out other wild frogs that may be carrying the disease.
Frogs and eggs have been released into these enclosures, with the aim that each will soon contain large breeding populations.
This most recent release also included the first release into alternate habitat in alpine forest areas. This habitat was chosen due to reduced abundance of the Common Eastern Froglet, which is a known carrier of the fungus.
The eggs were released into artificial pools, consisting of tubs that had been dug into the ground, lined with shadecloth and seeded with silt for tadpole food.
Here they will hatch into tadpoles, cool down over winter, metamorphose in late spring and early summer and then disperse into the adjacent forest. It is hoped that they will be detected again in four years time when they mature and return to the seeps to breed.
- Story and photo by Michael McFadden