An innovative scientific trial using cane toads’ own defense mechanism (bufo toxin) against their own spawn could bring about the eradication of these pests from Fraser Island.
Two workshops – the first on the mainland and held at the Botanical Gardens in Hervey Bay and the second held on Fraser Island – presented by Charlene Bezzina, research assistant from University of Sydney’s School of Biological Sciences, showed a number of Fraser Island community group members how to extract toxin; build, bait and set traps and how to humanely euthanize cane toads and tadpoles.
Research in tadpole behaviours has found that they seek and consume newly laid toad eggs before they can pose a threat. With female cane toads able to lay up to 30,000 eggs at a time it was discovered that these eggs leak small amounts of Bufo toxin which is a powerful attractant for cane toad tadpoles. A funnel trap baited with toad toxin has proved very effective in catching cane toad tadpoles.
Following the workshops the trial in a single day saw more than 10,000 cane toad tadpoles captured within the traps that were set.
Community group members who attended the workshops; including members from the Fraser Island Natural Integrity Alliance (FINIA), the Fraser Island Association (FIA), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), and the Lower Mary River Land & Catchment Care Group who routinely operate on Fraser Island, plan to continue to set traps in areas of high conservation value on the Island as part of the ongoing trial.