Cane toads are one of Australia’s most notorious pest species. Originally introduced in the 1930s in an attempt to control sugarcane beetles, cane toads have since spread rapidly and caused significant damage to native ecosystems.
Cane toads are incredibly adaptable and are capable of surviving in a wide range of environments. This, combined with their high reproductive rates, means that they can quickly colonise new areas and outcompete native species for resources.
Despite efforts to control their spread, cane toads continue to be a significant problem in many parts of Australia, particularly here in Central Queensland where the climate suits them perfectly.
During the wet season, there are plenty of toads found around the Capricorn Caves property. In collaboration with Central Queensland University (CQU) and Watergum, Capricorn Caves have been working to decrease the local and nationwide population.
Every year hundreds of toads are collected by Capricorn Caves staff and volunteer groups before being ethically euthanised. The carcasses are then passed onto CQU for dissection and study by first-year biology students.
The CQU students first remove the poison paratoid glands from the toads before continuing with their dissections. The glands are then frozen and sent to Watergum, an Australian company that produces chemical lures capable of attracting swarms of cane toad tadpoles.
This lure is only attractive to cane toad tadpoles and has no impact on waterway health or native frog or fish species. The bait is placed in a selected lake or dam and the cane toad tadpoles to enter it and become trapped.
We sent cane toads to CQU for the first time last year, and earlier this year our Natural Resource Management team delivered another 150 cane toads. The CQU students have already performed their dissections, and extracted the glands to be sent to Watergum.
This is an exciting opportunity for Capricorn Caves to work with CQU to decrease the local cane toad population, and contribute to the education of future scientists, as well as supporting Watergum to combat the cane toad problem in Australia.
During our next wet season when the dam on the Capricorn Caves property fills up, we will purchase Watergum lures to place in the dam, and remove the cane toad tadpoles.
We are proud to be a part of the solution by supporting the innovative work of Watergum, and supporting CQU’s environmental science program.
We will continue to monitor and manage the cane toad populations in our area, and we encourage others to do the same to protect Australia’s unique wildlife.
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