For months, Australia’s catastrophic bushfires were feared to have wiped out a particular frog species.
But there is now renewed hope for the future of the threatened Giant Burrowing Frog after ecologists uncovered almost 330 tadpoles in ponds in Maramingo Creek in East Gippsland, Victoria.
To their surprise, the ecologists also heard and spotted adult frogs in forest areas near the tiny Victorian town of Nowa Nowa.
The Giant Burrowing Frog is rarely seen in the wild.
“This is an exciting find for East Gippsland,” Forest Protection Survey Program manager Jamie Molloy said.
There was much uncertainty about how well the species may have survived, given the 2019-20 fire season was estimated to have resulted in the deaths of more than one billion animals across Australia.
Forest protection surveys were carried out for the first time since the bushfires burned more than 18 million hectares.
Hi-tech remote audio recorders were used to detect frog calls.
Tadpole searches of waterways and pools, as well as night-time spotlighting, were also used to try to spot the frogs, which are only found in Gippsland and parts of New South Wales.
Special protection zones have been created where the tadpoles and frogs were found to protect the immediate habitat needs of the species from timber harvesting.
“When threatened species are found, the department sets up a special zone to protect it from timber harvesting,” Mr Molloy said.
“For Giant Burrowing Frogs that protection zone could cover 50 hectares of land or a two-kilometre strip along a waterway.”