Thanks are due to two Cairns stevedores from Northern Stevedores Services for alerting AQIS to a couple of black spined toads from the ship Territory Trader last week.
The cluey stevedores spotted the tiny toads and called in quarantine authorities. The ship had traveled to Cairns from West Papua.
The black-spined toad is a species found in India, China and southern Asia, and is closely related to the cane toad. Black-spined toads have a ‘Serious’ establishment risk rank, meaning there is a high-level risk of a population establishing in the Australian environment. If they were to establish here, they could compete with native frogs for food and possibly poison animals that ingest them. Black-spined toads can live in a wider temperature range than cane toads and are highly adaptable, making them a significant biosecurity threat to Australia.
The tiny spiny find highlights the need for invasive species risk assessments and biosecurity vigilance at Australia’s high-risk entry points. Australia's quarantine service is excellent but it needs the assistance of the public and people like the NSS stevedores to provide the coverage we need.
Posted by Tony Peacock, founder of 'Feral Thoughts'