More than 2000 eggs of the Southern Corroboree frog have been released in the high alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, by keepers from Taronga Zoo and Zoos Victoria in a bid to save the frog from extinction. The species has been all but wiped out by the deadly chytrid fungus, leaving only about 50 mature individuals in the wild.
It will take six months for the eggs to metamorphose into frogs and then another four years for them to mature.
Scientists estimated that without the captive breeding program that began 10 years ago they would be only two years from extinction.
The program appears to be working as most of the frogs currently in the wild are the result of previous captive releases.
Taronga native fauna curator Michael McFadden said: “The eggs we released this month will take six months to metamorphose into frogs and then a further four years for them to mature. It's hoped that these eggs will contribute to giving this species a chance to recover.”
The team released some of the eggs into raised pools that were built to keep the deadly chytrid fungus out. Others were released into natural pools in areas that are known to have low levels of the fungus and others were released into enclosures.
The fungus causes a disease called chytridiomycosis on the skin that fatally impairs frogs' ability to maintain electrolyte, water and oxygen levels.
The frogs are being bred from stock that has been exposed to the fungus for a long time and so might have acquired some resistance to it. “Long term, the disease is always going to be in the wild so they're going to have to develop resistance,” McFadden said.