LOST FROG RETURNED FROM EXTINCTION
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For a number of years now, global frog populations have been at risk from the devastating effects of the chytrid fungus - a virulent disease carried by the North American bullfrog. Initially introduced around the world to be farmed for frog-legs, research has shown that North American bullfrogs consistently carry the fungus when found in the wild. To make matters worse, although they can be infected with the fungus, they do not go on to develop disease - unlike many other species of amphibians.
Scientists believe that as many as 122 species may have become extinct since 1980 and at the moment a third of all known amphibians face oblivion. With all this bad news, the rediscovery of a frog species not seen in the wild for almost 30 years is something of a revelation.
The Yellow-spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea) was believed to have been extinct since its last sighting in 1973. That was until Luke Pearce - a Senior Fisheries Conservation Officer, spotted what he thought might be a specimen in a small stream on the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.
The sighting was reported to Dr David Hunter - the Threatened Species Officer with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water - and the pair returned to the stream to confirm the finding. To their amazement, they then discovered that the ‘lost’ species inhabited a four kilometer stretch of the stream.
Since the discovery, a handful of tadpoles have been captured and taken to Taronga Zoo in Sydney where they will form the basis of a longer term captive breeding program so that they can be re established in to their native habitat.
NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor had this to say on the matter:
‘...this discovery is a reminder of the need to protect this environment so future generations can enjoy the noise and colour of our native animals..."
The above footage was shot on site with Dave Hunter, Luke Pearce and Honours Student Ben Scheele.
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