A newly discovered frog gets some help from Kangy Angy and EDO NSW

Have you ever heard of Mahony’s Toadlet? Probably not, given that this little frog has only recently been discovered.  We’ve just helped a residents’ group from Kangy Angy, on the NSW Central Coast, get an emergency listing for this rare frog on the NSW threatened species list.

23 March 2017

Not much is known about the Mahony’s Toadlet (or Uperoleia mahonyi). So far, it has been found at only eight sites, in Myall Lakes, Port Stephens and the Central Coast.

Because the species is so new (to science, not to the planet), we were unsure about how it should be protected by law; should it be considered endangered, critically endangered, threatened, or vulnerable? There’s little doubt that it’s rare, otherwise it would have been documented and described before now. But because we still know so little about this frog, it hasn’t appeared on the NSW threatened species list.

Until now.

The community acts

Late last year, the Kangy Angy Residents Action Group contacted us. A local population of Mahony’s Toadlet was discovered at the site of a proposed new Intercity fleet maintenance facility in Kangy Angy.

But the development’s impact on the toadlet wasn’t assessed during the approval process because the species isn’t on the NSW list of threatened species. The group saw that this was a problem, and asked for our help. 

Mahonys Toadlet

Engaging the science

On behalf of the group, we engaged amphibian expert Simon Clulow, Research Scientist at the University of Newcastle, who is researching the species and is responsible for its identification.

We briefed Simon to write an expert report on whether the toadlet should be listed under NSW threatened species legislation.  Although Simon’s report identified a number of reasons why the toadlet could be listed, there simply was not enough information to say how rare the species was and how endangered it might be.

However, it was clear to us from Simon’s report that the species was eligible for an interim emergency listing.  In November 2016, we wrote to the NSW Scientific Committee requesting that the toadlet be listed on a provisional and emergency basis.  We also requested the Committee to arrange for further work to be carried out so that the toadlet can be better understood and appropriately listed to ensure its protection.

On 6 March 2017 the Committee wrote to us to say that, after considering our request, they had found that Mahony’s Toadlet should be given a ‘provisional listing, on an emergency basis’ as an endangered species.

This is both good and bad news. To be listed as ‘endangered’ means the Mahony’s Toadlet faces a very high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future. But listing is an important step toward protecting the species.

So although it’s sad to add another species to our ever-growing list of endangered species, at least we now have a better chance of ensuring that the Mahony’s Toadlet doesn’t become extinct.

Making connections to defend the environment

This is an example of how EDO NSW can play a pivotal role in connecting communities, scientists and lawmakers to protect a species.

If you’d like to help us continue this unique work, why not donate to our Environmental Defence Fund. Your support will help us connect people to help maintain biodiversity and protect the environment.

Update, Thursday 1 June 2017: Transport for NSW released an additional species impact statement for public consultation, with comments open until Friday 30 June 2017.

Links