General News


Saving Corroboree Frogs


Critically endangered corroboree frogs live in alpine areas in south-eastern NSW and the ACT.  While amphibian chytrid fungus has been a major contributor to their decline, their habitat has also been damaged by feral animals and fire. Climate change is another threat.

The frog’s natural habitat is mountainous sphagnum moss bogs and nearby woodland. Its eggs are laid in burrows in the moss. Tadpoles grow to an advanced stage in the egg and are released into streams following flooding of the nest by rain or snow melt. After this it takes around nine months for them to develop into frogs.

These black and yellow striped frogs, which are no longer than three centimetres, are now being bred in captivity as part of the NSW Government’s Saving Our Species (SOS) Program. In 2006 Taronga Zoo began breeding southern corroboree frogs. Four years later northern corroboree frogs were also included in the program. 

Four other institutions including Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary are participating in the breeding program. Each of these facilities is fitted with breeding tanks, tadpole rearing tanks and shelving to house hundreds of juvenile frogs.

The estimates of mature adults of each species living in the wild show how necessary captive breeding is to their survival. The estimate for the northern species is 1200 but for the southern species it is only 50. The breeding program ensures there are insurance populations in case of catastrophic loss of those surviving in the wild.

The program’s breeding success has allowed it to start re-establishing them in the wild. It will also enable them to release eggs which will assist in assessing reintroduction techniques and is much less resource -intensive than growing frogs to full maturity.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia Herpetofauna Supervisor Michael McFadden hopes the program will create both a sustainable and naturally reproducing population and more understanding of the threats that corroboree frogs face.

While the millions being spent by the Government on saving important species from extinction is having good results, it also highlights how severe our biodiversity crisis is.

Leonie Blain