There’s only one place in the world where you can pay a visit to these delightful, colourful – and what could well be Australia’s most critically endangered – species: the Corroboree Frog.

There’s only one place in the world where you can pay a visit to these delightful, colourful – and what could well be Australia’s most critically endangered – species: the Corroboree Frog.

Of the two species of Corroboree Frog (southern and northern) the southern is the more fragile and has slightly larger and yellower stripes. It exists in the wild in a tiny pocket of Mt Kosciuszko NP, with populations in 2004 estimated at just over 60. Now there are a few hundred, mostly in captivity. The northern variety has fared slightly better and is no longer on the critical list.

Its convoluted breeding habits are in some way responsible for its current status. Most amphibians lay eggs directly into water, but not the Corroboree Frog (dig hole; call to females to lay eggs in hole; wait seven months; hope it rains enough to wash tadpoles to nearby pond). Throw in the prolonged drought and a devastating introduced disease called Acute Amphibian Chytrid Fungus and there’s very little opportunity left to see these magnificent critters anywhere outside of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

Of Australia’s 220 frog species, 47 are endangered and eight have already vanished, including those amazing Gastric Breeding Frogs that swallowed their eggs and gave birth to live young from their mouths. Remember those? Well, they’re gone forever.

Where // Forget trying to see a Corroboree frog in the wild. You’ve more chance of bumping into Harold Holt. Taronga Zoo is at the end of Bradleys Head Rd, Mosman, Sydney. You can also catch a ferry there from Circular Quay. (02) 9969 2777, www.zoo.nsw.gov.au

Did you know? // Taronga Zoo also has a large rare Black-breasted Buzzard endemic to Australia called “Slammer”, named so because of the species’ unique means of feeding by breaking open emu eggs and the like by hurling rocks at them with its huge beak. 

 

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