Sessional Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Written Submissions Received Volume 2 Issues associated with the progressive entry into the Northern Territory of Cane Toads October 2003
Tabled Paper 1123
Tabled Papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled papers for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Delia Lawrie
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ERISS Kakadu Report 2002 Written Submissions Cane Toad Inquiry Report Volume 2 42 competition between cane toad tadpoles and native frog tadpoles (e.g. the ornate burrowing frog) appears to exist, although, several reports suggest considerable segregation of breeding sites. Competition between adult cane toads and frogs appears to be minimal, with the pattern of habitat and food exploitation differing markedly. The major factor separating resource use is the cane toad's heavy reliance on ground-dwelling ants, termites and beetles as ma or food sources. There has been some indication from the Roper River region of the NT of competition effects. In particular, some species of small reptile were found to decline in areas colonised by cane toads. A competition effect was suspected, but not confirmed. Two frog species (the brown tree frog and green tree frog) have possibly been linked to competition-related declines, although the evidence is not strong. It is possible that many other species within Kakadu, including endemic aquatic invertebrates, could be subject to competition by cane toads. Cultural effects Concerns for the decline in numbers of bush tucker species such as monitor lizards, snakes and turtles have already been noted by several Aboriginal communities in the NT. This decline is likely to have very significant impacts upon Aboriginal communities within Kakadu. Some traditional ceremonies in the Borroloola region have been altered to request the spirits to return these foods, and in some cases, totem species (e.g. freshwater crocodile). From experience elsewhere in the NT, it appears that Aboriginal people, by necessity, eventually grow accustomed to the presence of cane toads, although this does not necessarily diminish the underlying concerns of these people. Areas of human habitation in Kakadu including the township of Jabiru, Aboriginal communities, Ranger stations, tourist accommodation and camping grounds are expected to have high densities of cane toads. This will impact on outdoor recreational activities and, in some areas, increase the likelihood of pets being poisoned from mouthing or ingesting cane toads Economic effects Cane toads are unlikely to have an adverse impact on the general economy and tourism income of Kakadu National Park. The reactions to cane toads in the NT have ranged from disinterest to dismay. International tourists do not recognise toads as an invasive species. while visitors from Queensland are well accustomed to toads. However, tourists from other states express deep concern about cane toads, especially in World Heritage sites such as Kakadu. Tour operators in Kakadu share a similar concern. However, the major attributes of Kakadu continue to attract tourists, and are likely to overshadow any concerns about adverse economic impacts of cane toads. Cane toads do have an economic value as dissecting specimens for research and education purposes, and as a supply for medicinal and leather products. Such industries exist in Queensland and will probably become established in the NT once cane toads are present in sufficient numbers. Other potential effects Another potential effect is the contamination of water supplies with rotting toad carcasses and the subsequent release of the toxins. There have been many reports of the poisoning of pets and poultry from drinking contaminated water. Experimental water-borne exposure of the toxin to various organisms has resulted in toxicity, but generally only at high concentrations.