Cool quarter of a million to help Margaret River’s critically endangered white-bellied frog survive

by Pelican Press
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Cool quarter of a million to help Margaret River’s critically endangered white-bellied frog survive

Major efforts are afoot to help preserve an endangered amphibian which calls Margaret River home.

Peak conservation group South West Natural Resource Management has confirmed almost $250,000 was received last month as part of the Federal Government’s Saving Native Species grant program.

The $247,425 would fund a partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to develop and test soil rehydration methods to allow the critically endangered white-bellied frog to be reintroduced into areas where it has previously become extinct due to the drying climate.

South West NRM chief executive Dr Manda Page said the tiny, critically endangered frog was at serious risk of becoming extinct if recovery efforts were not advanced.

“At just 2cm and with so few remaining, it would be easy for this tiny species to just slip away into extinction,” she said.

“But I think we can all agree that preserving what we have left, no matter how small, is of the utmost importance to the health and wellbeing of our environment and our future generations.

“We must do better, and with funding support . . . our white-bellied frog project is a positive step in the right direction.”

The project will involve installing soil-water monitoring probes across an array of locations to measure the hydration status over time.

Irrigation systems will then be installed across potential habitats to rehydrate the area and allow for the frog to breed.

South West NRM sustainability and environment lead Linda Metz said allocation of the funding helped address the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

“Our region is within one of only 36 internationally recognised, global biodiversity hotspots which means we have some of the rarest, yet most threatened species on earth within our stewardship,” Ms Metz said.

“The healthier our ecosystem, the healthier the planet and its people.”

A DBCA spokesperson said the endangered frog could only be found in isolated parts of the Margaret River region.

“The species has very specific habitat requirements, which have been declining in recent times, mainly because of reduced rainfall and extended periods of summer drought,” the spokesperson said.

“Translocation of captive raised individuals to augment declining natural populations or to create new populations have been successful in some areas, and further work associated with managing the hydrology of habitat may identify other suitable release sites.”

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region general manager Drew Mckenzie said South West NRM would lead the white-bellied frog project independently, but he hailed action taken to protect the precious animals.

“As a critically endangered species heavily impacted by our drying climate, we welcome efforts to help this species,” he said.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the funding would help the Government meet its target of achieving zero new extinctions.

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