Kununurra KTBs have put in 7,164 volunteer hours in 12 days of toadbusting to try and push the toads well back into the NT and out of the eastern edge of Lake Argyle.
Jordy, now an experienced toad buster and field researcher, is back (from Holland) undertaking phase two of his lungworm parasite research partnership with the Kimberley Toad Busters. Last year Jordy’s research rebutted NSW University research that suggested that lungworm parasite infected cane toads were no closer than 20 years behind westerly moving frontline cane toads. Jordy’s 2008 toad autopsies from 54 locations revealed that the lungworm infected cane toads were only 18 months behind the frontlines, but even that is out of date data, in light of this year’s discovery.
As exciting is recent analysis of KTB field data (collected from 341,914 KTB recorded adult toads since September 2005), which shows that the cane toad westerly frontline is slowing down, thus revealing the impact of weekly frontline toadbusting by the KTBs, which is also facilitating the lungworm parasite infestation catch up.
“We are certainly finding much fewer toads in the breeding sites feeding the front lines than we used to when we started in 2005, and while we still find some big cane toads, they are fewer in percentage of our overall catch than they used to be”, Lee Scott-Virtue President of the KTBs.
“It looks like our dedicated frontline weekly toadbusting is slowing the frontline, giving the lungworm the chance to catch up with the forward advance” Lee adds.
Prof Rick Shine’s laboratory based lungworm parasite research is reported to have shown that infestation by the lungworm parasite weakens adult cane toads and kills 30% of metamorphs (the stage following transition from tadpole). This parasite could be good weapon in the few weapons we have against cane toads because it is possible that the advance and breeding of large cane toad adults could be inhibited by the parasite. This parasite is believed by DEC and some parasite researchers to have arrived from Sth America with the cane toad (KTBs are awaiting genetic testing, being done in the USA on Jordy’s samples, to confirm this). This lungworm parasite, if it is different, does not appear to cross into native frogs and so does not pose a risk to them. (Native frogs have their own lung worm parasite, which is believed to be different from those found in cane toads).
“I am now running an experiment to find out how to infect deliberately the cane toads,” Jordy Groffen. “It should be possible to bring infected scats from the parasite infected cane toads to the frontline cane toads to deliberately infect them, to give the toads advancing into WA an unexpected hurdle.”
Jordy Groffen’s WA parasite research for the KTBs is not funded by government. WA DEC funds NSW researcher Professor Ric Shine’s lungworm parasite research. East Kimberley Tours are helping the sponsoring of Jordy’s airfares and research, and KTBs also fund raise to support Jordy in the field with our regular toadbusting teams. KTB toadbusting recurrent outgoing field costs are funded by the WA government.
Since the WA Department of Agriculture quarantine station spotted a cane toad hopping along the Highway in WA two weeks ago, and KTBs have found cane toads breeding on the north east edge of Lake Argyle (still in the Northern Territory where the Lake expands to in the wet season) toadbusters have been out EVERY NIGHT to get the toads out of these areas and out of Lake Argyle for at least another season.
“This will give us even more time to prepare and give DEC a chance to decide what toadbusting tools are acceptable in WA. KTBs toadbusting tools of CO2 for toad adults, dettol for metamorphs and burial of toad carcasses used for 3½ years in the NT are now being reviewed by DEC, as the toads cross the border”, Sandy Boulter CEO KTBs.
For more information contact:
Lee Scott Virtue: KTB President: 9168 2576 OR 9168 7080
Sandy Boulter : KTB CEO: 0427 508 582
Jordy Groffen: KTB Researcher: 08 9168 2576
Ben Scott-Virtue: KTB Field Coordinator: 9168 2576
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As over 2,000 Kununurra based registered Kimberley Toad Buster award acknowledged volunteer toad predators enjoy their FOURTH YEAR of WEEKLY hunting and gathering cane toads over 200,000 sq kms as a way of life, they are working hard slow and thin the invasion numbers, to save native species from extinction by the cane toad invasion and to preserve the maximum amount of genetic diversity within each native species population that survives. Cane toads in all this stages of their life cycle poison just about all fauna that eat them, pollute waters of ecosystems and use up food resources. The KTBs have caught, weighed, measured, killed and recorded over 341,914,000 adult cane toads; and countless millions of tadpoles and metamorphs (thereby taking over 160,000 kgs of cane toad biomass out of our already threatened precious NT desert eco-systems) with the help of private donations, Lotterywest, and the federal and WA State governments. As at February 2009, the KTB toadbusting comprised an estimated 490,000 volunteer field hours (and including support and administration hours it is probably closer to 950,000 volunteer hours. At $20 an hour, this equates to a lot of volunteer work value.
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