Endangered Southern Bell Frogs back at Yarradda Lagoon

Leaping into World Wetlands Day 2016 is the endangered Southern Bell Frog, turning up for the first time in nearly 40 years at Yarradda Lagoon following successive environmental water delivery events.

Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis)

The discovery at the lagoon west of Darlington Point in the Riverina, was made by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and Charles Sturt University (CSU) staff who were monitoring the wetland’s response following five years of environmental flows.

James Maguire, OEH’s Environmental Water Manager said hopes were raised in finding the frog when staff heard the very distinctive, low-growling call of two Southern Bell Frogs among a chorus of nocturnal wetland sounds.

“The next morning around 10 tadpoles and one bright green and bronze-striped adult Southern Bell Frog were found in the nets specially set up for monitoring the wetland’s aquatic life,” said Mr Maguire.

“While their call is unmistakable, to actually see the frogs and tadpoles was astounding.

“Tadpoles can take 3 months to fully form and to see some nearly at the adult stage was proof of successful breeding.

“At the moment conditions at the lagoon are ideal and successive watering events have created a place where these frogs want to live and breed.

“They have most likely returned to the area because for the first time in a long time, the lagoon’s vegetation is thriving and in some places emerging from the water creating favoured little spots for the frogs to call and breed.

“This particular Bell Frog is highly sensitive to changes in water regimes so this find is a great sign that the lagoon’s hydrology and aquatic habitats can support this endangered species.

“The ideal outcome is for a population to establish here and we have the ability to support this by continuing to monitor water levels and natural flows and ‘topping up’ the lagoon with environmental water if need be,” Mr Maguire said.

 Neighbouring landholders have been working with OEH over the last 2 years to help pump water into the lagoon to maintain the ideal water level.

“Without their assistance, the lagoon would have remained dry and we would not see the diversity of species we see here today,” said Mr Maguire.

The Yarradda Lagoon project is co-funded by the Riverina Local Land Services with environmental water supplied by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

David Papps from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder said he was excited to hear about the monitoring findings and breeding of the Southern Bell Frog.

“This is a great outcome for this species and it has been made possible by local landholders and irrigators, our state partners and scientists.

“Yarradda Lagoon is the subject of Long Term Intervention Monitoring, a five year program in which teams of experts throughout the Basin are assessing the impacts of environmental water use on behalf of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder,” Mr Papps said.

First celebrated in 1997, World Wetlands Day is marked internationally each year on 2 February. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.

Photos for media: Southern Bell Frogs Yarradda Lagoon.

Contact: Sarah Scroope