04.07.2011
 
As one of Australia’s most invasive species – the cane toad - continues its march across the country towards The Kimberley, El Questro Wilderness Park is taking action to stop the toad by working with The Stop the Toad Foundation (STTF) and Monash University in a move to protect the area’s iconic Emma Gorge and surrounding property.

Attracting tens of thousands of tourists annually, who come to explore this vast and largely untouched wilderness, El Questro Wilderness Park is aiming to keep this spectacular area, with its inviting swimming holes and stunning waterfalls, cane toad free. Working with STTF and Monash University, they will be erecting a special fence that will block access to cane toads but allow native animals to move freely through and over it.
 
The building of the two kilometre fence, which will take STTF volunteers three weeks to erect, will start at the end of this month and hopefully put a literal stop to one of the “world's 100 worst invasive species”, as listed by the World Conservation Union.
 
Campaign Manager of the Stop The Toad Foundation, Kim Hands said: “When we began field operations in 2005, the aim was to try and keep toads out of Western Australia. Despite our best efforts and the removal of 200,000 cane toads from the Western Australia and Northern Territory border area, toads are now 70 kilometres into The Kimberley so it’s time to adapt our strategy to keep toads out of certain defendable areas within WA.
 
“We will be using cane toad proof fences that we have been trialling for the past three years. The results have been very positive - the fences are the most efficient manual control tool we have to date and have helped us to completely eradicate populations of toads.”
 
Recently released scientific evidence by the University of Sydney and Western Sydney states that cane toad fences are a viable control to this invasive pest and may be the key to stopping toads getting to areas of pristine wilderness.
 
The El Questro Management team will be working very closely with the STTF over the coming months with El Questro staff continuing to manage, maintain and monitor the fence as part of a three year project to ensure areas of high biodiversity are adequately protected.
 
Comprising more than a million acres, El Questro Wilderness Park is open from April 14th through to the end of October with a range of accommodation and experiences suited to any style or budget: from the Station Campground and Bungalows, to tented cabins at Emma Gorge and the luxurious Homestead overlooking the Chamberlain River. For more information, visit: www.elquestro.com.au
People interested in being part of a Scientific Expedition to El Questro Wilderness Park can also join the Australian Geographic Society for a week from 16 to 25 May or 25 May to 3 June 2011 as they undertake various zoological and botanical studies. Staying in El Questro Wilderness Park’s Emma Gorge, participants will assist scientists with their research that will then be used to monitor any changes in the habitats and biodiversity of the region. The Expedition costs $2,500 per person with more information available on: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/society/2011-emma-gorge-scientific-expedition.htm.
 
Toad Fact File - Courtesy of the Stop the Toad Foundation:
 
- Toads were introduced into Australia in 1935 in an effort to control beetles eating the sugar cane.
- Toads produce toxins that are deadly to a range of endangered Australian wildlife including northern quolls, goannas, snakes and freshwater crocodiles. They also compete with native wildlife for habitat and food.
- The western frontline of toads is moving at least 40 km a year and toads are now making their way into The Kimberley.
- Each female toad can lay 35000 eggs. The first rains indicate to the toads it is time to breed.
- STTF has held The Great Toad Muster for the past 5 years. A total of 200,000 toads have been removed with the help of hundreds of volunteers around Australia.
- STTF is a non-profit, non-government organisation established in 2005.

About Delaware North:
El Questro Wilderness Park is owned and operated by Delaware North Australia Parks & Resorts, owners of Australian resorts including Wilson Island, Lizard Island, Heron Island and Kings Canyon Resort.
 

Contact(s)

Louise Longman
Email: louise@longmancomms.com.au
Phone: +61 488 215 983
For more information on the Stop the Toad Foundation, contact: STTF’s Campaign Manager Kim Hands on tel: 0400 130 397, kim@stopthetoad.org.au.
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