Perth Zoo has become the first zoo in Australia to successfully breed the critically endangered White-bellied frog (Geocrinia alba).
Speaking on National Threatened Species Day, Environment Minister Bill Marmion said the zoo’s captive rear and breed-for-release program provided some hope that the amphibian, which is endemic to WA, could be brought back from the edge of extinction.
“Adult White-bellied frogs, successfully reared at Perth Zoo from wild egg nests, have just laid the first two clutches. The clutches each contain at least eight eggs in a jelly mass,” Mr Marmion said.
“Now we have to wait and see how many of the eggs are fertile and hatch, and how many develop into froglets over the next couple of months.”
The Minister said the breeding success followed the release of 70 captive-reared White-bellied frogs at a site near Margaret River in September last year.
The release, the first translocation of captive-reared White-bellied frogs, was part of a Threatened Fauna ARK Project by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to re-establish these frogs in an area where they have become extinct.
Perth Zoo and DEC, in partnership with South West Catchments Council, established the captive rear and breed-for-release program for these threatened frogs to help boost their numbers in the wild.
“Under the program, wild collected eggs and tadpoles have been transferred to Perth Zoo for rearing,” Mr Marmion said.
“With the number of sites where these frogs are found declining by about 30 per cent over the past 10 years and research showing heavy predation of egg nests, the captive rearing is an important step in increasing their chances of reaching adulthood.”
Amphibians are a vital component of the global ecosystem, as indicators of environmental health and contributors to human health, but alarmingly around half of the world’s 6,285 amphibian species are in trouble.