Corroboree frogs are one of Australia’s most critically endangered species. These frogs mainly inhabit 1.3 to 1.8 kilometers above the sea level at the Sphagnum wetland of sub alpine area (Corroboreefrog.org.au 2017). It has been found only in the national park of Mount Kosciuszko. The name bears the tradition of the Australian Aboriginals. The decline of the population of this kind of frogs has drawn attention from nature activists and scientists to protect them from becoming extinct.
The species does not get challenges from any natural predators as it secrets poisonous toxins but there are several factors that have been fueling to the extinction of the species.
The species has experienced severe attack from a specific fungus named Batrachochytriul dendrobatidis. The disease that is cause by the fungus named Chytridiomycosis has already contributed significantly in mass extinction of other species in eastern Australia (Scheele et al. 2017). The fungus attacks keratin that is present in high amount in the adult frogs or in the tadpoles. The infection caused harmful changes into the frogs’ skin layers that eventually become deadly.
The climate change is another significant factor that has been contributing in the extinction of Corroboree frogs. The heat increase due to global warming is alarming. It has been affecting the breeding pools of the frogs and damaging their eco system (Environment.gov.au 2017).
The increased Ozone has largely increased the UV radiation. The high exposure of ultraviolet rays has caused serious damage for the amphibious existence. The UV rays affect the embryos and egg DNAs. The radiation also caused harm in the water and damages the other bio organisms (Brannelly et al. 2015). The alpine lakes of that region are not deep; therefore the low organic carbon in the water causes great threats for the Corroboree frog’s existence.
It has been observed before that bushfire can kill of a significant number of Corroboree Frogs. The sphagnum wetland’s bushfire in the Kosciuszko Park caused threat for the frogs’ lives as they did not come back to the area again (Abc.net.au 2015). The fire destroys their natural shelter, breeding areas, causes high dehydration.
During the 1970s the construction of the Hydro-electric project in the snowy mountains has eliminated a large number of Corroboree frogs of that region (Hunter 2012). The construction of roads in this area causes low water level and dry outs and hampers their natural breading places.
The Corroboree frogs are registered in the red list by International Union for Coservation of Nature as ‘critically endangered’. The EPBC and NPW Act also have identified the species as endangered. An investigation in 2014 revealed that the total number of the Corroborree frogs are not more than 50 which is which got reduced by 99% since 1980s (Theconversation.com 2017). Immediate effective human intervention is necessary in order to prevent them from acute extinction.
‘The New South Wales National park and Wildlife Service’ and other institutions like the “Amphibian Research Centre” and the Canberra University collaboratively undertaking various strategies to ensure the protection of the Corroboree frogs in the region through a five year plan.
Various treatments will be applied in this stage like the precipitation, altitude, size of population and catchment, breeding or non-breeding habitat, before and after population size (Skerratt et al. 2016). The tadpoles will be minutely observed to examine the success of the breeding. As the study takes place for a long period, so it may experience fluctuations in the process of receiving effective data that can represent the population data appropriately.
The trial reintroduction of the Corroboree frogs aged between 4-5years can increase the population. However protecting the existing frogs should be first priority and they should not be harmed in any way during the trial process.
The drainage pattern of the region must be evaluated and repair the existing damages without hampering the natural habitat. The natural habitats of Alpine Bogs are listed in the “Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999” (Environment.gov.au 2017). The threats will be minimized. The climate in the Research centre or Zoo is controlled and quarantine facilities are provided to protect them. The ongoing development and construction might contradict this process.
James Cook University is experimenting to build the immunity from the Chytrid fungus (Brannelly et al. 2016). However the expensive genetic research is creating challenges.
The camping of the outsiders must be restricted. The conservation management will set some specific rules and guidelines have to be set for the people. The feral animals will be controlled (Braysher and Arman 2014).
The scientists in the National park have developed few fungus free artificial breeding pools where the eggs of the Corroboree frogs have been successfully relocated (Scheele et al. 2014). The frogs take almost 5 years to grow mature so whether the eggs are able to survive that much time in the artificial pool is yet to be explored.
I believe the immediate concern should be the protection of the existing frogs as only about 100 are left in the whole world. Too much experiment might end up in harming them. However only after ensuring the best natural habitat they must be allowed to breed naturally. After that only few can be selected to incorporate the human intervention to increase the number. Effective precaution and preparation must be taken prior to the experiment. The human intervention might save the Corroboree frogs of the Alpine from extinction as it did for the Galapagos tortoises.
ABC News. (2015). Endangered frogs bouncing back in ACT: ecologists. [online] Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-15/namadgi-endangered-northern-corroboree-frogs-bouncing-back/6291648 [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
Brannelly, L.A., Berger, L., Marrantelli, G. and Skerratt, L.F., 2015. Low humidity is a failed treatment option for chytridiomycosis in the critically endangered southern corroboree frog. Wildlife Research, 42(1), pp.44-49.
Brannelly, L.A., Hunter, D.A., Skerratt, L.F., Scheele, B.C., Lenger, D., McFadden, M.S., Harlow, P.S. and Berger, L., 2016. Chytrid infection and post?release fitness in the reintroduction of an endangered alpine tree frog. Animal Conservation, 19(2), pp.153-162.
Braysher, M. and Arman, O., 2014. Managing Feral Horses in Namadgi National Park, Australia: A Sensitive Operation. In Proceedings 26th Vertebrate Pest Conference. Hawaii (pp. 149-155).
Corroboreefrog.org.au. (2017). Fast Facts – Corroboree Frog. [online] Available at: https://www.corroboreefrog.org.au/biology/fast-facts/ [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
Hunter, D., 2012. National Recovery Plan for the Southern Corroboree Frog, Pseudophryne corroboree, and the Northern Corroboree Frog, Pseudophryne pengilleyi.
Scheele, B.C., Hunter, D.A., Grogan, L.F., Berger, L.E.E., Kolby, J.E., McFadden, M.S., Marantelli, G., Skerratt, L.F. and Driscoll, D.A., 2014. Interventions for Reducing Extinction Risk in Chytridiomycosis?Threatened Amphibians. Conservation Biology, 28(5), pp.1195-1205.
Scheele, B.C., Skerratt, L.F., Grogan, L.F., Hunter, D.A., Clemann, N., McFadden, M., Newell, D., Hoskin, C.J., Gillespie, G.R., Heard, G.W. and Brannelly, L., 2017. After the epidemic: Ongoing declines, stabilizations and recoveries in amphibians afflicted by chytridiomycosis. Biological Conservation, 206, pp.37-46.
Skerratt, L.F., Berger, L., Clemann, N., Hunter, D.A., Marantelli, G., Newell, D.A., Philips, A., McFadden, M., Hines, H.B., Scheele, B.C. and Brannelly, L.A., 2016. Priorities for management of chytridiomycosis in Australia: saving frogs from extinction. Wildlife Research, 43(2), pp.105-120.
The Conversation. (2017). Australian endangered species: Southern Corroboree Frog. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/australian-endangered-species-southern-corroboree-frog-16189 [Accessed 12 Sep. 2017].
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