Tiny Endangered Frogs Miraculously Survive NSW Bushfires
Rescue teams held little hope for Australia's super cute black and yellow amphibian after fire tore through its habitat in the NSW Snowy Mountains. But they were dealt a miracle.
A small population of critically endangered Southern Corroboree Frogs have somehow survived bushfires that burnt through the Kosciusko National Park last month.
Corroborree Frogs are among the most spectacular looking frogs in the world, easily distinguished by their bold yellow and black stripes on their back, sides and legs.
The Southern Corroboree Frog -- one of two of the frog species that are critically endangered in Australia -- is found only within the Kosciusko National Park.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) recently flew a small team of experts -- from Taronga Zoo, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Department of Planning Industry (DPI) -- to remote sites in the national park to assess the fire damage.
They found three out of four custom-built frog enclosure sites had been burnt. But remarkably around one-third of the frog population survived.
“The number of surviving frogs in the enclosures was actually higher than expected,” Taronga's Michael McFadden said.
"But we did lose over half of the frogs in the fires, and also a lot of damage to the enclosures themselves, along with the irrigation and monitoring systems."
McFadden said the damage caused by the recent fires is a "setback" to population numbers and the enclosures, which are a vital component to the state's Southern Corroboree Frog recovery program.
The enclosures provide a 'wild' and disease-free habitat with natural sunlight, food and climate conditions for small populations of frogs bred at Taronga Zoo and other sites.
But McFadden said there is still hope for the critically endangered species.
"We'll be able to rebuild these enclosures and ... produce enough eggs -- enough frogs -- [so] that we will be able to restock those enclosures again back to the levels they were within a few years time."