This tiny, black and yellow striped frog is one of Australia's most iconic amphibians. Native to the sub-alpine ponds and bogs of the Snowy Mountains, the Southern Corroboree Frog is also one of Australia’s most endangered species.
The deadly Chytrid Fungus has led to its catastrophic decline in recent decades. This decline spells trouble for their ecosystem. Even as tadpoles, Corroboree Frogs remove algae from alpine waters, keeping them crystal clear and clean for other aquatic plant and animal life.
Taronga is responsible for a large breeding population of Southern Corroboree Frogs and is a major contributor to the National Recovery Plans for both Northern and Southern species. Our breeding program has seen hundreds of frogs and thousands of eggs released into Kosciuszko National Park in experimental reintroductions aimed at ensuring the persistence of this species in the wild.
Michael McFadden, Supervisor of Taronga’s Herpetofauna Department, reports on the exciting results of fieldwork undertaken this year:
The 2017/18 breeding season has brought a number of successes and advancements for the corroboree frog conservation program. For the Southern Corroboree Frog, the species is still at critical level with less than 50 mature adults remaining in the wild, with these individuals occurring at the reintroduction sites.
However, this year, both Taronga Zoo and Zoos Victoria have had great breeding success, which permitted the reintroduction of 505 eggs from Taronga Zoo, with additional eggs from Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary, into a number of sites in Kosciuszko National Park. In addition to this, Taronga Zoo’s Herpetofauna staff have made multiple trips to Kosciuszko National Park this year to undertake monitoring on the Southern Corroboree Frogs released last year in the disease-free enclosures at three locations in the park.
On each trip, the staff, in collaboration with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, have caught frogs in each enclosure, individually identified them from their pattern and weighed and measured them. We can report that they are growing well and looking good.
Taronga Zoo staff have also been busy working with the Northern Corroboree Frog, also critically endangered due to amphibian chytrid fungus. A reintroduction program in Brindabella National Park has been underway for this species for a number of years now – eggs have been released each year, as well as 160 one-year-old frogs and 49 five-year-old frogs in 2014.
We are now seeing a number of the released animals return and set up nesting sites. This year, we also saw lots of breeding success, which coincides with the female frogs released in 2014 reaching sexual maturity. To further this experimental reintroduction work, Taronga Zoo also released 114 juvenile frogs in the national park in March, and will release another 114 in October. This will investigate the impact of releasing during different seasons on the survival and success of the reintroduced frogs.