“Quick action in reporting the unusual find allowed for the rapid identification of the source, enabling a search for more Asian black-spined toads to prevent them becoming Australia’s next cane toad,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.
The Asian black-spined toad is the cooler climate version of the cane toad that is devastating northern Australia. Despite being slightly smaller it has the same poison glands and a voracious appetite.
“If more than one toad had arrived in the container from Singapore that was recently delivered to a neighbour’s Belrose backyard, a breeding event would have released tens of thousands of young into local waterways,” Mr Cox said.
The discovery comes just three months after Sydney was put on red alert when a colony of red imported fire ants was found in Port Botany.
“The discovery of an Asian black-spined toad in Belrose is yet another sign Australia needs to beef up its environmental quarantine systems and enact stronger biosecurity laws,” Mr Cox said.
“Far too many dangerous invasive species are slipping through Australia’s quarantine net.”
A recent Senate inquiry into protecting Australia from invasion by new harmful species heard evidence of weak environmental biosecurity including poor surveillance, little contingency planning and the lack of a comprehensive list of high-risk environmental invaders.
The Asian black-spined toad was identified as a high risk during the inquiry, which is due to report in May.
“This is the first time an Asian black-spined toad has been detected in NSW outside of a major port and the fourth time they have been found in Australia since 1999,” said Mr Cox.
Warringah Council and national parks staff have asked Belrose residents to look and listen for the toad. So far only one has been located.
Report suspected sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Cox on 0438 588 040