Tag Archives: Victoria

Bleak future for Australian frogs

In recent years, scientists have become increasingly aware of a worldwide decline in the numbers of frogs. Frogs are certainly disappearing in Australia. Eight frog species have become extinct in the last 25 years, and several more are likely to become extinct in the near future.

There have been drastic declines in the populations of amphibians, particularly frogs, throughout the world. Along the east coast of Australia, nine species of frog have totally disappeared in the past two decades, and scientists are at a loss to explain why or provide solutions – except for ‘human activities’ and population growth – but some reasons are still elusive.

Victoria’s frogs are facing a conservation crisis according to biologists, who warn that some of the state’s amphibians have “passed a tipping point”, while others have become extinct.

Baw_Baw_Frog-large(image: Baw Baw frog)

Nick Clemann, program leader (threatened fauna) at the Arthur Rylah Institute , said the prospects for the Baw Baw frog, Victoria’s only endemic frog species, were now considered “immediately bleak”.

The frog is now only found on the forested western slopes of the mountain. It’s tiny, it breeds underground and it can only be found in Victoria’s eastern Alpine region of Mount Baw Baw and one highly protected shipping container in inner Melbourne.

The spotted tree frog, found in rocky mountain streams in north-eastern Victoria, is also battling shrinking numbers, with more than half the known populations believed lost. Those that remain and are being monitored and are showing a gradual decline. Their survival is threatened by chytridiomycosis, the waterborne disease attacks the keratin in the skin and threatens all frog species. There is no effective infection control for the fungus in the wild.

To help combat the decline of Baw Baw frogs, Melbourne Zoo converted a shipping container that simulates alpine conditions, and has succeeded in establishing a small ‘insurance’ population base of 57 frogs.

The southern corroboree frog is one of Australia’s most endangered species. Arguably one of the most striking of Australia’s species, the southern corroboree frog is endemic to Australia, and in fact only lives in small pockets entirely within Kosciuszko National Park. ‘Corroboree’ refers to a meeting or gathering of Aboriginal Australians where participants often adorn themselves in white striped markings.

Southern_Corroboree_frog(image: Corroboree frog)

Threats include human impacts such as climate change, fire and habitat disturbance, as well as feral animals. But the biggest problem is the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which has been decimating frog populations around the world.

Frogs, more than any other terrestrial animal, need water to survive. In inland wetlands in NSW, water can be scarce for years and then suddenly abundant, and frogs depend on the flooding of wetlands to successfully breed.

Eighteen species of wetland and river frogs – a quarter of all frogs in NSW – are listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. They include the green and golden bell frog, southern bell frog , stuttering frog, corroboree frogs, alpine tree frog, sphagnum frog and wallum froglet.

Exotic fish threats
The plague minnow (Gambusia holbrookii) is a small fish sometimes called the mosquito fish. It was originally introduced to control mosquitoes but was not successful in doing this. It is now common and widespread, and known to eat native frog eggs and tadpoles.

Other exotic fish – such as trout, carp and goldfish – also eat native frog eggs and tadpoles.

Other threats

  • Loss of habitat: Humans can damage frog habitat in many ways. For example, people:clear large areas of native vegetation for housing and agriculture.
  • removal of fallen timber, leaf litter and other ground cover
  • drain wetlands or allow cattle to graze in them
    collection of bush rock, which is used for shelter by some frogs such as the red-crowned toadlet
  • frequently burn patches of bush which frogs shelter in reduce the quality of wildlife corridors, which connect areas of frog habitat. This makes it difficult for frogs to move from one area to another.

In our Western, consumer-based economy, underpinned by high population growth, there’s heavy competition for development of frog habitats.

Displaced and introduced frogs pose a serious risk of spreading disease to local native species

‘Banana box‘ frogs are displaced frogs that have been inadvertently moved from their normal habitat, usually in containers of fresh produce or landscape supplies. As displaced frogs pose a serious risk of spreading disease to local native species, they must be treated as if they are carrying an infectious disease and must never be released into the wild unless special approval is given.
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/animals/ThreatsToFrogs.htm

An estimated 6000-8000 frogs are transported to Melbourne annually in produce. These tropical frogs cannot survive in Victoria’s cool climate nor can they be returned to their home state due to fears of spreading disease. These displaced frogs are cared for at the Victoria Frog Group’s and Amphibian Research Centre’s
Lost Frogs’ Home,
nursed back to health in quarantine and eventually placed into a caring home as a family pet.

Cane toads
The culling of cane toads has been widely encouraged as they are displacing native Australian frogs.
Some of our native Australian frogs look a bit like cane toads. Cane Toads are large heavily-built amphibians with dry warty skin. They have a bony head and over their eyes are bony ridges that meet above the nose. They can be distinguished from some native Australian frogs because they sit upright and are active in the daytime in dense clusters.

Deadly urban sprawl

The Growling Grass Frog, for example, is endangered in Victoria. It needs habitat corridors along creeks and waterways, such as Merri Creek, to survive and flourish.

Studies by Melbourne University researcher Dr Geoff Heard show that the frog’s population has declined by 29 per cent in Melbourne’s north since 2001-02. The Growling Grass Frog conservation corridor along the Merri will be narrowed to only 50m wide and straddled by the town centre of Lockerbie, north of Craigieburn. Melbourne’s northern growth corridor will gain 11,000 new houses with the development of the former Lockerbie sheep station. Construction is due to start within months on a new community that will eventually house 30,000 people at Kalkallo, north of Craigieburn.

Growling_Grass_Frog(image: Growling Grass Frog)

It is estimated more than $986 million will be collected over the 30 to 40 years it will take to develop the growth corridors . The money will go towards buying land for reserves and management of the sites.

The government will also release strategies to protect key species threatened by Melbourne’s growth, including the endangered growling grass frog and golden sun moth.

Somehow, planners will have the contradictory task of trying to save endangered specie, yet at the same time promote housing growth! In the land famous for extinctions, the competition between housing/economic growth, and the protection of habitats for native species, continues to untangle, but the latter are always hindsight consideration – and collateral damage!

Ecological role of amphibians

A good ecosystem is the one with many species variety whereby it has less chances of being extremely damaged by natural disasters like climate changes or even human interaction. So as to help to keep the system healthy, each and every species has a niche in its ecosystem.
Frogs mainly feed on insects as their main sustenance and also native pests whereby with this, the insect and pests population is regulated which could have been hazardous to the rest of the environment if it was not kept down. Forest streams have leaf litter as their main source of energy where animals feed on leaves and nutrients get released as a result of tadpole activity that becomes an advantage to microorganisms, algae and other animals.

(featured image: Growling Grass frog)

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Call to the Victorian Government for an urgent review of the culling permit allocation.

Currently, there is LITTLE to NO consideration given to local ANIMAL RESCUE SHELTERS in the area when a license to cull is approved. This effectively means that as a group rescues, rehabilitates and then releases an animal, it can be LEGALLY KILLED the same day by a neighbor with an approved license to cull.

Environmentalists recently slammed a State Government decision to allow the culling of 60 kangaroos on an Otways property next door to a wildlife shelter and a national park.

The Environment, Land, Water and Planning Department issued a permit to “scare, disperse, trap or lethally control” 60 eastern grey kangaroos just weeks after a landowner moved to a Colac-Carlisle Road property.

The property shares a boundary with the long-established Carlisle River Wildlife Shelter and the Great Otway National Park, and previous owners had grazed cattle on the land for about eight years before the new owners bought the property.

This system is DEEPLY FLAWED and all of the power is with the person with the license to cull as there is currently NO dispute process for local residents or local animal rescue shelters to challenge this permit..

Therefore, we call on the Victorian Minister of Agriculture to review the current license allocation system to take into account surrounding properties and local animal rescue shelters when allocating a permit. Further, we request an option to allow local directly affected parties and rescue shelters to dispute the approval of a cull of nominated animals within their immediate vicinity.

“Two rabbits eat the same amount as a kangaroo and a cow with a calf at foot will eat as much as 30 kangaroos; DELWP should be required to explain to the applicant the dietary differences between kangaroos and cattle so that the applicant can be properly informed about the amount of competition for pasture that actually exists,” Wildlife carer Mr Anstis said.

Do they know how many rabbits, or kangaroos, are in Victoria? probably not!

Letter to
The Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford MP

Sign the Petition to Jaala Pulford, Victoria Agriculture Minister

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Ecologist Hans Brunner’s response to the DEWLP Southern Brown Bandicoot Implementation Plan

To:
James Todd | Director Knowledge and Decision Systems | Biodiversity Division
Environment & Climate Change | Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
Level 2, 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

Dear James,

In spite of the massive input that has already been done for the Southern Brown Bandicoot implementation plan, I still have some serious doubt about a best possible outcome at this stage. It appears that my many evaluations of the proposed corridors presented to DELWP have been totally ignored.

It seems that the long, too narrow, costly and unproven corridors are going to remain as the core solution regardless of everything else.

My I ask then why the corridor from the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (RBGC) to the Pines is still seriously considered while there are no plans to protect SBB’s in the Pines,( if they can actually get there), the same way as they are at the RBGC? This, and the other three corridors are all open ended and do not lead into other and well protected colonies.

As to the Population Viability Assessment (PVA), much discussion went on about it. My question is, has there been a PVA applied to the proposed corridor solution and if so, I would like to obtain a detailed copy of it. As far as I am concerned, a proper PVA would have to dismally fail the present concept.

Since there is already $ 20m wasted on underpasses in the Pines , I would not like to see another $20 to 30 million wasted on these corridors while there is no money left for the proper protection of SBB;s in a number of reserves surrounded by a predator proof fence. This is my solution.

And finally, it appears to me that when environmental issues are dealt with in the same department as there is planning, there could well be a conflict of interest to occur.

I am happy to discuss my points with any one, possibly over the phone.

Yours concerned.

Hans Brunner.

Hansxx

We appreciate Hans Brunner’s effort (image above) to negotiate a solution to the threats to the Southern Brown Bandicoot in Victoria, Cranbourne area.  Such is the political and economic power of the housing industry, habitat will be lost and the threatening process is one that can’t easily be mitigated.

The forecast human population of Cranbourne, 2016, was 297,000 and by 2041, 492,497, a whopping 68.5% increase in this period!  Hardly leave much habitat for SBB!  They are to be sacrificed so that property developers, and real estate investors, can continue rolling out urban sprawl – and big profits.

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IFAW- Action Alert for Victoria’s koalas

You were probably deeply saddened at the news recently that nearly 700 koalas had been euthanased in Cape Otway, by the previous Victorian government.

Ask the new Victorian government to improve its approach to protecting koalas!

The tragic end for these koalas could have been avoided by better management. The high number of koalas in Cape Otway is a direct result of a long series of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided earlier translocations from small islands.

Sadly, this is just one example of how we’re letting down our national icon.

Another koala catastrophe is unfolding in the south west of the state. If not addressed now, it could result in a far worse situation on a much larger scale. Many thousands of koalas inhabit timber plantations there and many are killed or suffer horrific injuries in logging operations.

When the plantations are harvested, these koalas are then left hungry and homeless with nowhere to go.

We need a new approach to koalas in Victoria and across the nation. It’s not just about ensuring that each plantation is logged carefully to protect wildlife.

We desperately need to build a system of secure koala habitats and connectivity between habitats, so that animals can move between areas as logging happens so that they don’t end up marooned.

The new Victorian government is promising a new more transparent approach and a special koala management plan.

Let’s hold them to that promise. We need urgent action to help our national icon.

Thank you so much for your support.

Best wishes,

Isabel McCrea
Director, IFAW Oceania

Take Action Now

(featured image: “Phascolarctos cinereus (Koala resting in tree fork)”.jpg Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons)

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It’s our national duty to protect endangered species

It’s our national duty to protect native endangered species, not sacrifice them to urban sprawl.

hunt

Dear Minister Hunt,

I am writing to you in regards to the Southern Brown Bandicoots (SBB) in Cranbourne area, as per the ABC news on Sunday night, 28th February.

This devastation is happening in YOUR electorate, and it’s shameful that there is no voice from you as Environment Minister?

These SBB are already threatened, and there are so many native species in our growing threatened species list!   Why wasn’t the fox-proof fence built, that was already funded?  Why will the animals have to go, for HOUSING!  We have enough houses in our city, and why do we need MORE destructive urban sprawl?  People are not a threatened species, and an economy relying on building houses is shallow and destructive!

The small brown marsupial is listed as nationally endangered.  There is no point in saying their numbers are sufficient elsewhere!

Australia is a land famous for our rich biodiversity, but it seems our decision-makers, including you,  are intent on destroying as much as possible of it – and in this case simply to appease property developers!

It was decided that there was no benefit to be gained from the wildlife corridors, but this is NOT about monetary gain.  The Victorian Government’s own bandicoot strategy said the corridors were not “cost effective”.   It’s incompatible with urban sprawl.  We have a legal obligation to protect our natural heritage, and “cost” is irrelevant as there is already funds available.  They have intrinsic value, and are part of our natural heritage.  Where’s the “cost effective” policy for urban sprawl?

These delightful little suburban battlers were once common in our southern suburbs, and now just a few remain in the Pines Flora and Fauna Sanctuary at Cranbourne.  A patch of bush in the back blocks of Frankston on Melbourne’s urban edge is just 10 kilometres from the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens.

Peninsula Link spent $20 million of taxpayers’ money on an underpass, and handed over $1.6 million to Parks Victoria for the fence.  But Parks Victoria never built the fence.  Where’s the money for the SBB now?  Bandicoots don’t need corridors, but their habitat protected.

We have the EPBC and our Wildlife Act, and are set up to PROTECT our native species, so why isn’t this Act being implemented and enforced?  It seems that the major contributors to our environmental threats are somehow and conveniently exempt  from prosecution, and from limits to their actions.  How are property developers exempt from laws protecting wildlife?

We are locked in to a Colonial, cancerous type of economy, of new settlers, housing expansion, vegetation clearing, or “taming the bush”, and unbending never-ending “growth” at whatever cost. This type of encroachment onto native species habitats is a Third World problem, not one of a so-called leading, developed economy like that of Australia!
The Buck Stops with YOU!  You are the Environment Minister, so you can stop this habitat vandalism, and sending one more native species down the extinction trial.  Extinction is FOREVER, and would you like to be known by future generations for the demise if the SSB, and only be seen in reserves or stuffed in Museums?  Is this to be your legacy to future generations?  Killing off the last of the SBB?

We wait for your response,

Vivienne Ortega, secretary

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Mornington Peninsula Council – urged to protect ducks from busy roads

It has come to our attention that there is extensive harm and death caused to ducks and ducklings that reside in the Mt Eliza area.

As well as other animals and especially birds.

Yet again few days ago, we laid to rest a father duck who was either hit by a car/cyclist/ and left to die on my footpath.

His body was still warm as his feathers gently peeled off his body as I held him safe in my arms.

We have given him a respectful burial as he deserves.  The father duck was not dissimilar to this duck pictured.

dead-duck

We need Ducks Crossing signs erected in a number of locations.

On my road, and property for example, we have at least 4 families of ducks and 8 ducklings each, roaming, that are constantly crossing the road, resting on the footpaths etc.

The cars are known to ‘fly’ around the bend on the highest point of Fulton road, yet the council km signage has not deterred motorists and cyclists from slowing down.

As a result of the lack of animal crossing signs, there are constant deceased animals/ducks/birds eg magpies.

Lorikeets that are being killed and left on the roads, only to be run over and over and over by the rushing motorists.  On a daily basis in Mt Eliza I pull over and pick up the dead animals/birds and give them a humane burial.

It is horrible that many drivers and local residents are blinded by the vision of dead animals being driven over.

And especially as these animals and birds are otherwise often kept as pets, or promoted as Australia’s special wildlife.  They are not treated as special when they are killed on the roads and left to die.

I request that signage be erected on known areas where ducks/animals/birds congregate asap to stop this unnecessary act of cruelty and neglect.

I appreciate your urgent reply at your earliest convenience,

Kind regards,

Paris Yves Read

Mt Eliza

Melbourne

 

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