This week, Taronga Zoo staff released over 1,100 critically endangered Southern Corroboree Frog eggs in Kosciuszko National Park as the snow fell over their natural subalpine habitat. The eggs, bred at Taronga Zoo and Zoos Victoria, were released into a variety of natural and artificial pools as well as disease-free enclosures as part of an ongoing recovery effort to bolster population numbers of this rare frog.
The Southern Corroboree Frog is one of Australia’s most threatened animals, with less than 50 mature frogs in the wild. They have been in a state of decline for over three decades due to a devastating disease caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus. The fungus was introduced to Australia in the 1970s and has been responsible for the extinction of six frog species in Australia and up to 200 species around the world.
To prevent the extinction of this iconic species, an insurance population with over one thousand frogs has been established at four zoos and a university under the guidance of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The conservation program has been very successful in recent years, with eggs released each year since 2010.
The eggs released this week will slowly develop into tadpoles as their pools drop to almost freezing temperatures during winter. Once Spring arrives tiny black and yellow frogs will emerge to then enter the surrounding bogs and forests where they will grow for a further four to five years before coming back to breed.
Herpetofauna Supervisor, Michael McFadden, said: “We’re releasing the eggs using a number of reintroduction techniques in order to maximise our chances of establishing populations of corroboree frogs within the park.”
“By undertaking the releases in an experimental manner, it will allow us to continually learn and improve the techniques required to rebuild populations of this species”.