Using Cane Toad Bufo Toxin to Control Numbers on Fraser Island
Feb 26, 2015
An innovative scientific trial using cane toads' own defense mechanism (bufo toxin) against their own spawn could bring about the eradication of these pests from Fraser Island. Two workshops presented by Charlene Bezzina, research assistant from University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences, showed a number of Fraser Island community group members how to extract toxin; build, bait and set traps and how to humanely euthanase cane toads and tadpoles.
Research in tadpole behaviors has found that they seek and consume newly laid toad eggs before they can pose a threat. With female cane toads able to lay up to 30,000 eggs at a time it was discovered that these eggs leak small amounts of Bufo toxin which is a powerful attractant for cane toad tadpoles. A funnel trap baited with toad toxin has proved very effective in catching cane toad tadpoles.
Following the workshops the trial in a single day saw more than 10,000 cane toad tadpoles captured within the traps that were set.
Community group members who attended the workshops; including members from the Fraser Island Natural Integrity Alliance (FINIA), the Fraser Island Association (FIA), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), and the Lower Mary River Land & Catchment Care Group who routinely operate on Fraser Island plan to continue to set traps in areas of high conservation value on the Island as part of the ongoing trial.
The workshops and trial is being supported by BMRG. BMRG CEO, Penny Hall says that the dedication and support from the Fraser Island community on the ground was the key to working towards eradicating cane toads from the island.
"Eradicating cane toads from the mainland is currently not feasible but a concentrated effort by community group members will go a long way towards effectively controlling cane toad numbers with the ultimate aim being their eventual eradication." She said.
"We are always on the lookout for unique and innovative ideas to support that help to protect and enhance the region's natural environment and this trial, if successful will go a long way towards achieving this aim." She added.