Landline covered the weekends Volunteer Toad Busting Events. Vicki Biorac recorded and filmed with the aim of producing a 5 minute segment on Aboriginal involvement in the fight against the cane toad.
What does the Volunteer Toad Busting Training involve?
All training exercises take place where there is cane toad activity to enable volunteers to gain experience in handling cane toads safely. Co-ordination of the Training session begins approx. at 12 midday (territory time) and several hours are spent learning how to identify toad eggs, tadpoles, juveniles and adult males and females. Safety issues are also discussed, and demonstrations of how traps work and other methods of catching cane toads are part of the training exercise. Various components of equipment such as torches, nets and appropriate plastic bags to carry ‘captured’ toads in are discussed.
The handling and disposal of each of the various levels of the Cane Toads life is demonstrated as well as the best and most humane acceptable methods of euthanasia.
The educational component of the Toad Training exercise is delivered through power-point and photographic presentation as well as through the on-ground handling of toads captured and held in traps. Graeme Sawyer from Northern Frogwatch ran the first educational training session component and Sarah Brett managed the second. (For the training sessions the euthanasia component is handled by the educator).
When possible a CALM representative has and will continue to attend the afternoon educational briefing to provide up-dates on Conservation and Land Managements Cane Toad strategy and results.
Several hours of the night are spent Toad Busting Cane Toads. The last training exercise indicated that using lines of people positioned approximately 1 meter apart ensure that all toads were busted on the first sweep. This strategy also ensured the ‘buddy’ system is well in place and enforces the reality of Toad Busting in crocodile country.
Paul Sharpe from Darwin assisted in the last exercise on-ground activities. He has contributed enormous information into ensuring that the Volunteer Toad Busting Training exercises are undertaken with maximum safety procedures in place. Strong emphasis has always been placed on safety however the weekend exercise of the 1 st and 2 nd of October revealed a number of logistical problems with training such large and diverse groups and enabled several strategic objectives to be applied for future exercises.
How do we get to the Cane Toads?
Triple J will continue to provide a bus to transport people to the training site; however those wishing to travel independently can also do so. Where possible Kimberley Specialists has covered fuel and food costs for all those participating in the training exercise, however, without the valued in-kind contribution we have received from a number of people, and the financial contribution provided by Conservation Council WA on our first training exercise, this would not have been possible.
Conservation and Land Management have recently undertaken to provide $10,000 towards the cost of these exercises and Stop The Toad Foundation has also undertaken to provide financial input once they have become an incorporated body.
This financial commitment will now enable Kimberley Specialists to undertake to cover all fuel and other on-ground costs incurred over the next few weeks.
Outcomes from the 2 nd Training &Toad Busting Exercise:
26 cane toads were busted, 9 of which were female. All nine were gravid with three capable of producing around 90,000 eggs.
|A data form provided by CALM recorded size differences, sex, how many were gravid as well as other information. Human line formations along sections of the Old Victoria Crossing indicated this to be the best method in ensuring that all cane toad activity was recorded and captured. This exercise captured all the toads within 60 meters of each body of water surveyed and provided additional information on the best volunteer search strategy pattern in cane toad busting exercises.
It was interesting to note that on this particular exercise that no cane toad activity was found to be any further than 60 meters from the water, emphasising that for any effective cane toad trapping at this time of the year, all traps need to be placed near water. Dr Paul Sharpe from Darwin provided his field work expertise to assist the group in determining best field methods.
|Ju Ju and Georgina Wilson and Annie Fitzgerald have joined Kimberley Specialists to become our Aboriginal Toad Buster Coordinators and have been largely responsible for organising volunteers from Wyndham, Kununurra and Timber Creek to participate in the weekend training exercise. Elaine Watts from Timber Creek organised for our Volunteer Toad Busting and Training session to take place at the Fitzroy Community and helped to facilitate field work in a couple of waterholes Community members were worried about.
Cane Toad Busting was also undertaken by the group on other station locations.
The growing interest from Aboriginal Communities located between Kununurra and the cane toad front in the NT we are now discussing the possibility of having at least two CDEP trained Toad Buster Warriors located in each community”. CDEP coordinator Richard Beeck and Ronnie Atkins have initiated Community Toad Busting Training, with Ronnie bringing some of the community representatives to the weekend exercise. Discussions with Chris Spurr, Horticulture & Landcare Lecturer at the Kimberley College of TAFE and the Kununurra High School indicates that some of the Toad Busting training may become certified activities, with members from communities enrolling to make cane toad traps and to officially train to become Cane Toad Worriers.
What’s Happening Next?
|A small group of volunteers will be hitting a number of stations and communities over the next couple of weeks. We are looking for independent trained volunteer Cane Toad Busters to help distribute traps and educational material to some of the stations and Aboriginal Communities located in areas that have the potential to receive the arrival of cane toads over the wet. If we can beat the weather it is also planned to check some of the billabongs and dams to ensure that there are no cane toad inclusions in any of the systems as well as dropping off educational material.
CDEP Coordinator and Toad Buster Ronnie Atkins with other Aboriginal volunteers will undertake a Toad Busting Educational program early next week along the Duncan Highway , visiting Stations and Aboriginal Communities along the way. We are also looking for Trained Toad Busting volunteers to assist Ronnie.
Richard Beeck CDEP CEO is also working with Aboriginal Communities located in the NT to encourage members to undertake the Volunteer Toad Busting Training being coordinated by Kimberley Specialists and Sarah Brett.
Chris Spurr from the KimberleyCollege of TAFE (and now an official Toad Buster) is looking at incorporating the current volunteer on-ground Training activities into a proposed CDEP trap building and cane toad TAFE certified education program. Tim Callaghan, Lecturer- Industrial skills from TAFE is also looking at a trap making program at TAFE.
Aboriginal Communities from as far away as Halls Creek have asked to become involved in the Cane Toad Training and Toad Busting activities.
Timber Creek Aboriginal Toad Buster Elaine Watts and other community members will be undertaking toad busting activities in some of their sacred waterholes on Bradshaw Station during a cultural walk planned to take place shortly.
Another major Volunteer Cane Toad Training and Toad Busting weekend is planned for the 22 nd and 23 rd of October. The land-based training activity will take place at the Victoria River Road House. Richard Beeck is organising for CDEP Aboriginal participation involving Communities from the WA border through to Timber Creek.
|A second exercise, involving a boat survey down the Victoria River is planned. The boat exercise is to check for potential cane toad incursions along both sides of the Victoria River before the wet season hits us. This activity will also help to establish if the Cane Toad front is further south west than expected.
Graeme Sawyer from Northern Frogwatch will coordinate this exercise and is hoping to have an ecologist on board. Triple J will provide a second boat and a couple of the trained Toad Busters will undertake toad egg and tadpole collecting along the banks of the Victoria River .
Dr Paul Sharp , in conjunction with one of the Darwin Bush Walking Clubs is planning to walk substantial areas of the Victoria River from Coolibah Crossing to Timber Creek and parts of the Victoria south of Timber Creek from Saturday the 15th.
Jane and Greg Harmon of Ultimate Adventures Barra Fishing are organising a Tourism Operator Volunteer Cane Toad Training and Busting weekend for the 26 th November. This will be held at the Victoria River Roadhouse. Kimberley Specialists will facilitate and organise the educational training and field based activities. For more information ring Jane on 91682310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Toad Busting activities will now be taking place on a weekly basis and these will be undertaken by trained Toad Busters. If anyone would like to join in any of the Volunteer Toad Busting activities outlined above please contact Lee or Dean on 91682576 or on email email@example.com