Amphibians Under Threat

Threats in Australia

Threats in Australia

That's how it seems when you look at all the threats frog populations face in our current environment. Frogs have been around this planet in their modern form for roughly 50,000,000 years, but in the past 30 years, their numbers have been under vicious assault to the point that species are going extinct at the drop of a hat.

It is worth dividing up the threats into two categories. Some localised threats (threats which are confined to a specific area) in Australia are:

  • cattle grazing
  • agricultural chemicals and runoff
  • hazard-reduction ("controlled") burns
  • habitat loss and fragmentation
  • habitat modification and degradation
  • introduced feral land animals (cats, dogs, foxes, Black rats, etc.)
  • introduced and translocated predatory fish (salmon, trout, Gambusia, etc.)
  • removal of riparian vegetation and cementing of creeks
  • road kills
  • sedimentation in streams
  • endocrine disrupters and pesticides (including domestic use as well as commercial)
  • apathy

The last item in the above list isn't usually listed as a threat but it is a very serious one. Apathy can take many forms from the individual who finds a frog in obvious distress and walks by without helping it - to a government agency which is provided with all the evidence of a new threat to frog populations and chooses to ignore the evidence.

Some of the threats listed above are even localised down to the habits of an individual household or property such as uncontrolled cats and dogs or the use of pesticides and herbicides around the home. Other threats aren't so obvious but they are revealed by some of the patients that have been turned into the frog hospital. For example, some frogs have been injured by being:

  • squashed in windows and doors being shut by unaware people
  • poisoned (deliberate and accidental)
  • burned and scalded (usually accidental but, very sorry to say, sometimes deliberate)
  • sprayed with Dettol and other chemicals intended for cane toads
  • accidentally stepped on or crushed by falling objects (flower pots, display stands in outdoor shops, tree branches, etc.)
  • lacerated by farm machinery or workers harvesting fruit
  • lacerated by backyard gardening equipment such as whipper-snippers and hedge trimmers

These examples show that sometimes the interaction between frogs and people isn't very friendly at all. There are also bigger problems at work and you'll find these on our global threats page.

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