One hop away from extinction

The Kroombit Tinker frog, found only in the rainforests south of Gladstone in Central Queensland is in a precarious situation.

These critically endangered frogs are pretty sensitive – they need to live at an altitude of 500 metres above sea level or higher. So the Kroombit Tops National Park and Kroombit Forest Reserve are the last places on earth they exist.

There are only 150 frogs left and they live in a series of small unconnected rainforest patches. The highest number of these frogs found at one place, ever, was 13. Their eggs and tadpoles have never been seen, and their breeding habits are unknown.

Taudactylus pleione Kroombit Tinker Frog.

Taudactylus pleione Kroombit Tinker Frog.

Despite their adversities the frogs do have something on their side.

As a critically endangered species, the Kroombit Tinker frog is a Back-on-Track priority species in the Burnett-Mary and Fitzroy Basin regions.

Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA) in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service through Queensland Government Q2 Coasts and Country funding has continued the implementation of a fire strategy and feral animal control program (Kroombit Tops Pest Arrest Project).

FBA Chief Executive Officer Paul Birch said this program is being implemented at Kroombit Tops to measure the impacts of fire and pest animals on the Kroombit Tinker frog habitat.

“A week-long Frog Search was also conducted to collect information on the Kroombit Tinker frog and knowledge of the range of the frog has been improved as a result,” Mr Birch said.

“The search relied on volunteers from the local community, landcare groups and tertiary education institutions to increase the geographic coverage of monitoring of fire and feral animal impacts in addition to the surveys and broad scale monitoring of Kroombit Tinker frog populations.

“Scientists from the Queensland Government are using Song Meter audio recorders to monitor the location and abundance of the frog at Kroombit through their calls; from this, they can evaluate the effectiveness of the feral animal control program and fire management.

“Population monitoring is also being undertaken as part of the program to assess the effectiveness of management actions and identify areas requiring targeted feral animal control. The program is also offering the opportunity to gather important information on the ecology and status of threatened frogs,” he said.

There are also two other threatened frogs that occur in the eastern part of Kroombit Tops – the endemic endangered Kroombit tree frog and the tusked frog, the program in place will also benefit these species.

Scientists think that the Kroombit Tinker frog used to live throughout southern and north-east Queensland, but as rainforests have broken up, their habitat has shrunk. With an ongoing fire strategy and feral animal control program the frogs have the best chance to survive and thrive.