Endangered frogs putting on a show at wetlands across southern NSW

Southern Bell Frogs have struck up a chorus at sites near Wakool and Murray Downs as environmental water creates ideal conditions for breeding.

Southern bell frog (Litoria raniformis) at Cockran Creek

Once widespread, the Southern Bell Frog now exists only in isolated pockets. It is vulnerable to predation by introduced species including carp, which feed on frog spawn; and highly sensitive to changes in environmental conditions including changes to flow regimes and loss of habitat.

As part of a targeted watering initiative, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is managing the delivery of flows to sites near Wakool and Murray Downs using NSW Adaptive Environmental Water.

And the results are nothing short of spectacular!

Between 15 and 20 Southern Bell Frogs have been heard calling during recent monitoring at Cockran Creek near Wakool with at least six individuals detected at a private wetland near Murray Downs.

Environmental Water Management Officer Emma Wilson said the numbers were a credit to the efforts of nearby landholders.

“Approximately 200 megalitres of NSW environmental water has been delivered to Cockran Creek via Murray Irrigation infrastructure and private outlets, with a further 140 megalitres directed to the Murray Downs wetland,” Ms Wilson said.

“Landholders have played a critical role in ensuring the water reaches the target sites as and when it’s needed.

“In fact, most of the Southern Bell Frogs detected during monitoring at Cockran Creek have been found in the irrigation channel supplying the creek.

“It’s an amazing outcome.

“The Southern Bell Frog has been detected in the Cockran Creek system before, but never in such numbers.

“Part of the reason can be attributed to the regeneration of wetland vegetation along the creek system over the past few years as a response to environmental flows.

“That vegetation is now providing habitat for several different animals including the Southern Bell Frog.”

Since 2011, more than 11,000 megalitres of environmental water has been delivered to the Cockran Creek system. The OEH has also provided delivery infrastructure under a cost-sharing arrangement with landholders to improve delivery efficiencies.

The encouraging response at both Cockran Creek and Murray Downs is supported by anecdotal signs of recovery from landholders across the region who have recently found and photographed Southern Bell Frogs in their irrigation systems including rice crops.

Southern Bell Frogs are classed as endangered in NSW, vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBA) and included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List Endangered Species.

Photos of the Southern Bell Frogs in Cockran Creek here;

https://www.flickr.com/photos/48646673@N07/sets/72157649326628916/

Contact: Jacki Roberts