WWF responding to the threat of Cane Toads
The cane toad Bufo marinus is recognised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Invasive Species Programme as one of the world’s 100 worst invaders. This view is also shared by WWF-Australia. In early 2004, WWF wrote and submitted a nomination to the Federal Government to have ‘ Predation, Competition and Lethal Toxic Ingestion Caused by Cane Toads’ recognised as a Key Threatening Process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
This is the first step to addressing the impact of a particular threat under Australian law. Once a threatening process is listed under the EPBC Act, a ‘Threat Abatement Plan’ can be put into place if this is deemed to be "a feasible, effective and efficient way" to abate the threatening process. As of January 2005, no decision has yet been made by the Australian Government as to whether or not cane toads will qualify as a key threatening process, but a decision should be made in the near future. To find out more about this process or to view the WWF document, go to: http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/ktp/index.html
Also during 2004, a National Cane Toad Taskforce was established. The purpose of this taskforce is to develop and coordinate a national strategy to combat the deleterious impacts of the cane toad on Australia ’s biodiversity. This includes:
- Reviewing information available and information needs and gaps
- Recommending priorities for research on impacts, monitoring and control including assessment of costs and benefits
- Recommending management responses
- Promotion and coordination of research and management responses.
WWF ’s Jarrad Holmes, Threatened Species Network Coordinator for Northern Savannas, sits on the National Cane Toad Taskforce as a representative for community conservation groups. The taskforce recommendations will be reported to the Australian Government in April 2005. WWF strongly advocates for increased on-ground management in addition to research and monitoring of the spread on cane toads.
In 2003/005, the Threatened Species Network (a joint program of WWF-Australia and the National Heritage Trust) supported a project that translocated populations of Northern Quolls from the Northern Territory mainland to two offshore ‘cane-toad free’ Islands . This was done in collaboration with the Northern Land Council, Gumurr Marthakal Indigenous Rangers and NT Parks and Wildlife Service. Northern quolls are one of the most at-risk species because they are aggressive meat eaters that consume toads and die from the toad’s poison. A survey in late 2004 found that the translocation has been successful with most of the quolls having bred on the islands during 2004.
WWF is also lobbying the W.A Government to pro-actively stop or slow down toads entering W.A. to protect that state’s vulnerable species. Toads are currently projected to arrive in W.A via the Kimberley within 1-3 years.