The frog hunters – a tale about the southern corroboree frog

Richard Snashall, 2012

Video – The frog hunters

Dr David Hunter has been working with the southern corroboree frog for over 15 years. There may only be 50 to 100 left in the wild.

This is the first time that both Zoos Victoria and Taronga Zoo have brought up large numbers of eggs for release back into the wild.

Transcript

Richard Snashall

G’day Dave!

Dr David Hunter – Threatened Species Officer, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

G’day Richard!

Richard Snashall

How are you?

Dr David Hunter

Yeah good!

Richard Snashall

So, a pretty special day today?

Dr David Hunter

A very special day. This is the first time that both Zoos Victoria and Taronga Zoo have brought up large numbers of eggs for release back into the wild.

Narrator – Richard Snashall

Dr David Hunter has been working with the species for over 15 years. And here they are – the southern corroboree frog. It’s hard to believe, but there may only be 50 to 100 left in the wild.

Dr David Hunter

This is due to a pathogen, called the amphibian chytrid fungus that was introduced into the Australian environment we think some time during the 1970’s. And the thing about this pathogen is that it’s actually causing amphibian declines and extinctions all around the world and in fact they think several hundred amphibians may have been already driven to extinction due to this disease.

Raelene Hobbs – Zoos Victoria

The other main reason is habitat destruction – habitat destruction is certainly one of the biggest reasons frogs are in decline.

Narrator – Richard Snashall

So today is all about accessing remote locations to put southern corroboree frog eggs, that have been bred in captivity, into the wild.

Dr David Hunter

Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo and Taronga are the three main facilities breeding southern corroboree frogs at the moment.

Michael McFadden – Taronga Zoo, Sydney

We’re here sorting out our eggs and we’ve got the eggs in here because it’s a cooler room in the hut.

Dr David Hunter

In terms of our operation for today, being able to use the helicopter to access some of the remote sites and having the pools as warm as they’ll get through solar radiation, this is perfect for what we need to do.

Michael McFadden

So here we have all the eggs that have been produced at the zoos this year, and they’re about to go on the chopper for their flight out to a couple of the sites where the tubs are set up.

Dr David Hunter

So this is a breeding area for the southern corroboree frog and this is one of the main areas where we are doing our reintroduction. Once the eggs go into this water, that then stimulates them to hatch and then there’s all the other food and requirements for the tadpoles in these tubs and then they can happily grow and develop through to metamorphosis.

Raelene Hobbs

We’ve just put 50 eggs in this tub and then we’ll go down to another tub and release another 50.

Narrator – Richard Snashall

Once we were finished there, it was back on board to fly to the next release site.

Dr David Hunter

I feel very confident that in five to 10 years time I could be standing out here during the breeding season and we’d be listening to a breeding chorus of corroboree frogs. I feel very confident that that’s what we’re going to see.