Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 to control cane beetles in Queensland and have since spread to New South Wales and the Northern Territory with no known predator that is able to survive the poison that exudes from their glands. In the Northern Territory, the invasion has resulted in severe population declines and local extinctions of several species of native predators. Three species of monitor lizards that are common along river systems have suffered population declines between 71% and 96%, which may lead to a loss of genetic diversity in the populations. If this genetic bottleneck occurs it will reduce the viability of the species for long term survival and recovery. With Monash University, we aim to preserve viable genetic diversity in these three species. Developing a map of current (pre-cane toad impact) diversity is essential for genebanking strategies to be delivered effectively, and will have long-term conservation benefits. Creating a genebank that holds genetic material from the threatened monitor species will allow crucial genetic diversity to be reintroduced into the population to maintain long term viability. This project focuses upon the first step in preserving that genetic diversity: mapping the genetic diversity.
What can you do?
Be a Responsible Pet Owner: Cane Toads were deliberately introduced to Australia but animals we have as pets can do just as much damage to our wildlife. Please be sure to keep your cats, dogs and other pets in at night, and if you can't care for your pet, find it a new home so it won't stray and kill wildlife. If you find sick or injured native animals, contact a wildlife rescue organisation or Taronga Wildlife Hospital.