An article in Sanctuary News! caught my eye this week – it seems, for once, a good news story about frogs has surfaced! Isolated populations of the Eungella Tinker Frog (Taudactylus liemi) will be given a well needed boost, thanks to a captive breeding program at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. The details of the program can be viewed here.
Tinker frogs have made their home in rainforests around Eungella in Queensland, where they inhabit rocky margins of pristine upland streams and seepages. They’re generally cryptic, hiding in secretive niches – which can make them tricky to locate. Males cleverly use small rock clusters as mini-amphitheatres to help resonate their delicate ‘tinking’ call throughout the forest. Once a female is attracted, egg clusters are laid on the underside of rocks in calm pools, where the tadpoles can develop.
Somehow, whilst several other members of the water frog family (Myobatrachidae) have declined drastically over past decades, these guys have hung on. It is thought that Tinker frog numbers are currently stable, and may even be increasing. They even have a facebook page!
It’s re-assuring to see significant progress being made towards rehabilitating the Tinker frog; however, other frog species are still battling away. The Eungella region represents the last stronghold for the critically endangered Eungella day frog (Taudactylus eungellensis); and the Northern Gastric Brooding frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) which, sadly, is now thought to be extinct. Increasing fragmentation of rainforest stream habitats, fungal infections (chytridiomycosis), and infiltration of pesky cane toads has probably led to the decline of these, and many other rainforest frog populations.
But it’s not all bad news for these guys. Lucky for them they live in and near protected National Parks and State Forests, and are closely monitored by QPWS, Griffith University and conservation groups. If the Tinker frog captive breeding program proves successful in the long term, the housing facilities at CWS may be used to assist other frog species in the same way. Fingers crossed there’s more good news to come!