This November, the community of Milingimbi Island has been working together to undertake an island-wide cane toad bust.
Coordinated by the Crocodile Islands Rangers, and with the advice, support and equipment provided by FrogWatch NT, all the local Milingimbi agencies have been working together to share resources and conduct the bust.
Cane toads need to drink water every five days or so, and as Milingimbi only has a few freshwater sources during the dry season, it should be possible to wipe out cane toads from the island.
CEA's CDEP participants worked with the Rangers to build cane toad proof fences (complete with native animal gates) around the freshwater sources. These fences seem to be working well, as the number of toads being collected from around them has dropped from 50 per night to only 5. The fences will remain in place until either the community are convinced the cane toads have been wiped out from those areas, or the wet arrives.
Dr Ian Morris from FrogWatch launched the cane toad bust on the evening of Wednesday 31st October. The launch was held at the Art Centre, coupled with local band 'Maringa' and healthy food provided by Miwatj Health service and Healthy for Life Coordinator Merrilee Baker.
Each night the Rangers, Healthy for Life, CEA and STEPS Training manned a cane toad bust tent and collection bin, where education materials, garbage bags, gloves, and torches were provided to the community to help catch cane toads around the town.
Prizes donated by ALPA were given away on the last evening of the community component of the bust on Sunday 4th November. The most number of toads caught was 194 by Kutura and family from Bodiya outstation. A tally of the toads collected is ongoing, however over 2000 toads have been collected so far.
The community would love to see Milingimbi become a toad free island, however, we realise that it may take several years, as we continue to learn more about where the toads are hiding in the dry season, and new methodologies to wipe them out.
At the very least the number of toads removed this bust will ensure less toads during the next wet season, and the bust also raised awareness about the importance of keeping the toads off our other Crocodile Islands which are currently toad-free wildlife refuges.
We would also like to thank East Arnhem Shire Council, NFA, NT Dept. of Health and Milingimbi School for their assistance with this project.
Article by Warrick Angus, Toad Bust Coordinator