Kakadu National Park is preparing for the arrival of the ubiquitous
(and probably unstoppable) cane toad with a series of research
projects aimed at monitoring the impact of the pest. The toads are
now almost 100 km east of Mataranka. As Piers Barrow (Project
Officer, Natural Resource Management) points out, no one has ever
been able to halt the spread of the toad or eradicate it.
They are poisonous to predators and their eggs and tadpoles are
also toxic. Native predators at risk include fish, reptiles, birds
and mammals. There is also the impact of greater competition for
resources to take into account as well as the toads' own predatory
Dr Barrow writes that Kakadu's indigenous frogs are one group of
animals likely to suffer heavily from the impact of the toads. A
research program devised and run by Professor Gordon Grigg of the
University of Queensland will monitor the population levels of all
frog species at several points in the park. Listening posts have
been set up which can record, by their calls, the abundance of
frogs. The toads' calls, when they arrive, will stand out.
The Green Corps are also carrying out a fauna survey at about 70
sites throughout the park. The survey will provide baseline
information which can be built on as the toads get nearer. The
research will also be incorporated into the Park's fire research
program, to help understand the effects of different fire regimes
on small animals.
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