Friday, May 10, 2013


I’ve just been flicking through our latest issue of Be Magazine and in particular I am fascinated by the cover story – ‘It’s War’ about our battle with the cane toad.

It is quite astounding, that considering the cane toad was introduced to Australia to help eradicate pests that were destroying cane crops in the 1930s the toad itself has probably become the greatest pest and threat to Australia’s natural environment.

Walking outdoors at night it is evident to see that toads are a problem, but until you look at the facts and figures it is difficult to understand just how bad a problem this warty critter is.

Initially introduced to Queensland, the cane toad has multiplied and in 2009 crossed the West Australian border. In fact what I find most shocking is how quickly they spread – moving 40-60 kilometres westward every year and leaving a trail of environmental destruction in their wake! Cane toads are not only extremely ugly but are also lethal to most of our native species, releasing a lethal toxin when threatened – so hardy is the cane toad that it can kill a crocodile.

Even though much research has been conducted into eradicating the cane toad, much of this has failed – leaving many to wonder if the battle has been lost. While many have all but given up on eradicating this pest, some are tackling the problem with their bare hands, toad-by-toad because it now seems the most reliable way to stop the march of the toad is to catch them and kill them humanely.

Many communities that have been severely impacted by toads have introduced toadbusting sessions, whereby volunteers arm themselves with torches, gloves and bags with the sole mission of capturing as many toads as possible. In fact the program in Gladstone, run by Conservation Volunteers Australia, has caught close to 60,000 toads in 11 years. One can only imagine the impact on the local environment had these toads not been captured. I think this initiative really has some legs, so here is hoping it can be adopted by organisations like CVA in communities right across Australia.

Read more about the war on the cane toad in the latest edition of Be Magazine.

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