What’s in Your Backyard? Biodiversity Kits are on their way
For over 20 years Kimberley Specialists in Research have identified species are under threat in the Kimberley and have wanted to
initiate a Kimberley wide biodiversity monitoring program. With the approach of cane toads knowing which species we have and
where they live becomes so much more important. We need to know this information if we have any hope of managing the
impact of cane toads, for example, which areas are most important to protect? And how much impact cane toads have on
This is a HUGE task, scientific survey is a long way from being complete in the Kimberley, new species are still regularly being
found. Also, very few studies have looked at the impact of cane toads on biodiversity, none have looked at their impact at the
ecosystem or habitat scale.
We are hoping everyone who spends anytime in the Kimberley comes on board and helps with ‘What’s in your Backyard?’
Launched in January 2009 ‘What’s in your Backyard?’ is easy. See the example form below.
Collect data forms from the Library, Shire or download from KTB Biodiversity data sheet
Look around your backyard, along your favorite walking track, fishing or camping spot or any other place in the
Kimberley and jot down what you see. Complete as regularly as you like and keep an eye out for any new species.
Return the forms to Kimberley Toadbusters.
Any species you are unsure of take some photos and send in to Kimberley Toadbusters firstname.lastname@example.org. If
we cannot provide identification we have a network of scientists who can. Or you may have found a new species!
Also, for identification or just an idea of what you may find check out the species ID cards on the cane toads webpage
(www.canetoads.com.au/bio). Kimberley frogs and reptiles are already loaded, with all the other species to come, complete
with a distribution map of where the species can be found in Kimberley. For more information on different species check out the
Kununurra Community Library, they have recently created an ‘Ecology’ section for flora and fauna with a number of resource
books donated by Kimberley Toadbusters.
Begin your own ‘What’s in Your Backyard?’ survey today, before the wet season.
More on the Species ID cards and Biodiversity Kits
We are in the midst of creating species ID cards for all species of the Kimberley, great and small. These ID cards will be
distributed as a Kimberley Toadbusters Biodiversity Kit to everyone in the community participating in the What’s in your
Backyard? Program. For a sneak peek please have a look on the website, species ID cards have recently been loaded for frogs,
cane toads and reptiles, including blind snakes and dragon lizards. As an example of the ID cards check out the Knob tailed
The species ID cards and Biodiversity Kits are being prepared as quickly as possible as there is an urgent need to begin your own
‘What’s in Your Backyard?’ surveys NOW, well before the wet begins and cane toads arrive. If you find any mistakes, or can
suggest any changes please contact Ruth Duncan at email@example.com or via Kimberley Toadbusters, any
suggestions to improve the species ID cards are welcomed. Improvements include photographs. We would love to use photos
taken by the local Kimberley community for all species. Local photos are urgently needed for all bird and mammal species. Then
land snails, insects, spiders… the list at the moment is endless! Copyright of all photos is respected and clearly displayed.
Candlebark School in Victoria unites with Kimberley Toadbusters on
‘What’s in your Backyard?’
Tucked away in hills around Romsey, in Central Victoria, is a school (Prep to Yr 9) that has been founded by well know Australian
author John Marsden. As a final challenge before finishing at Candlebark School, eight Yr 9 students embarked on a 6 week
adventure between Broome and Darwin with teachers Wendy and Sam. After tackling the Gibb River Road the kids were mad
keen on finding out just what Kimberley Toad Busters and their programme ‘What’s in Your Backyard?’ was all about.
While conducting toad busts at Police Hole and Snake Creek on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th of August, the Candlebark
group completed two ‘What’s in your Backyard?’ biodiversity surveys. At Police Hole this was a huge achievement, while pulling
out in excess of 3,200 toads. The scene was incredible, the ground covered in a moving carpet of cane toads. Green tree frogs
could still be found clinging to the tank stand. With each sweep more native frogs could be found. The Tally for the evening:
numerous (40+) Striped Rocket frogs, 5 Green Tree Frogs, 1 Pale Rocket Frog, 1 unconfirmed freshwater crocodile, 1 feral cat
and 3208 Cane Toads. A HUGE effort.
The second survey was completed along Snake Creek, eastern edge of Lake Argyle, the following evening. Unfortunately a
surprising number of toads were present keeping everyone busy. The tally for the evening: 1 Tawney Frogmouth, 1 Large Egret,
1 Little Red Tree Frog, 4 Green Tree Frogs, numerous Rocket frogs (Striped and Bumped), 10 Freshwater Crocodiles and 106
Cane Toads. After the previous night I had expected the group to be a little less enthusiastic, if anything they had greater
resolve than the previous night! Well done for all efforts, especially Katelin, often found tailing the group looking for native
The Candlebark group were invited to explore Lake Argyle by a generous Kimberley local. The group conducted ‘What’s in your
Backyard?’ surveys for one island, one waterfall with pool and two wetlands. The trip was a biodiversity smorgasbord, with the
kids into everything from rock wallabies, spiders, dragons, skinks, monitors, water birds, fish, turtles not to mention a beautiful
female crocodile laying her eggs and others actively digging holes. The only disappointment was the fishing, with only one Silver
Cobbler, however there is always the story of the one that got away from Finn. The trip was a great example of how well ‘What’s
in your Backyard?’ fits into any camping trip. Everyone in the Kimberley should be giving it a go!
The Candlebark School has identified their Backyard, a catch of virgin bush in Victoria, as perfect for the ‘What’s in your
Backyard?’ package and have taken the ideas home with them. On return to school the group have re‐enacted as a skit of their
experiences with Kimberley Toad Busters to spread the message to their school. The trip was a real success, with schoolteacher
Sam threatening that the Kimberley Toad Buster experience is going to become a recognised part of the school curriculum for
future years. We hope so.
What’s in Amanbidji’s Backyard? With the Bayulu Rangers
During September Kimberley Toad Busters enjoyed the company of the Bayulu Ranger Group. The Bayulu Rangers travelled to
Kununurra from Fitzroy Crossing (1600 km return) to help with toad busting and the programme ‘What’s in your Backyard?’
The Rangers were stationed out at Amanbidji community, approximately 100 km from the WA/NT border. Here the Ranger
group met with the community and heard stories firsthand about the loss of bush tucker and impact the toads have had on the
Ruth Duncan visited Amanbidji to provide training in how to identify cane toads and difference between native frog species,
dissection of cane toads for research, importance of biodiversity and the ‘What’s in your Backyard?’ program. The Rangers then
conducted a ‘What’s in your Backyard?’ biodiversity survey during the evening toad bust. While it can be difficult to keep track
of species seen during a bust Adrian, Morris and Roneil kept a close record. The list even included a Giant Burrowing Frog, one of
the native species most easily mistaken for a cane toad. Congratulations Rangers on a correct and very important identification!
The Rangers were brilliant Kimberley Toad busters catching just under 1000 cane toads over two nights work.
The start of a ‘What’s in your Backyard? kit including frog, cane toad and gecko identification cards was sent back with the group
to Bayulu. This will allow the Rangers to educate their own community on protecting species and collect fauna data on different
habitats including their favorite places before the cane toads arrive. The Rangers will be sent regular updates for their ‘What’s in
your Backyard?’ Biodiversity kit as more species ID cards are completed.
The Bayulu Rangers were a fantastic group to work with. The Rangers identified they would like to work regularly from the KTB
southern base, Nicholson Station. This is one of the key paths the toads may follow into the Fitzroy catchment. KTB Field
Coordinator, Ben Scott Virtue, Team supervisor, Gorgenia Wilson and Ruth Duncan provided the group with a letter of support
for future funding proposals. We hope the group is successful in obtaining a grant to buy a vehicle to enable them to run their
own toad busts with Kimberley Toad Busters.
We all look forward to working with the Bayulu Rangers again soon.
Many thanks to Melanie Smith, Maryanne Winton, Georgenia Wilson, Rowdy Wilson, Lee Scott Virtue and Ben Scott Virtue for
all assistance in organizing the trip. Many thanks also to Dennis Peat for coming to the rescue after the 7th tyre on the KTB bus
Photo: The Bayulu Rangers in at the Kimberley Toadbusters depot
Photo: A random sample of toads were selected for dissection to look at stomach contents, stage of egg development in females
and presence of the lung worm parasite. This data is all recoded in the KTB database for research.
Evening with Author Sandra Kendell, some wine and cheese!
During Book Week, 25th to 30th of August, Kununurra and Wyndham schools were visited by Sandra Kendell, an illustrator and
children’s book author. Sandra had witnessed for herself the loss of native wildlife as the cane toads moved through her favorite
camp sites near Darwin. This loss and the story of the Island Ark program inspired her brilliant artwork and story for the
children’s book Quoll.
Quolls are highly susceptible to cane toad toxin, mainland extinction is the likely outcome. The Island Ark program is the capture
of Quolls from the mainland and release on large Islands off the NT coast. These Islands will hopefully remain free of cane toads.
The program to date has been successful with the quoll numbers increasing in their new home.
Quoll, the story, can be borrowed from Kununurra Community Library or purchased online at www.quollstory.com.au
Kimberley Toadbusters Environmental Scientist Ruth Duncan joined Sandra in two joint presentations to classes at Kununurra
District High School and a wine and cheese evening held at Kununurra Community Library. Ben Scott Virtue, Kimberley Toad
Busters Field Co ordinator joined the wine and cheese evening to provide the latest update on location of toads and busting
activities. Once a ‘weekend’ activity Toadbusting is now happening every day of the week. Latest data suggests the toad
frontline is slowing in pace, with the dedication displayed by volunteers it is no wonder.
We would like to thank Kununurra Community Library for hosting the event and inviting Kimberley Toadbusters. It was a
pleasure to work with Sandra Kendell and from the response of the children the presentations were greatly enjoyed! Thank you.
Events coming up…
Kimberley Toadbusters in conjunction with the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley is running three activities as part of the
upcoming school holiday program. All events are supervised by adults. Please contact Kimberley Toadbusters on 08 9168 2576
or firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries or bookings.
Activity 1: TOADBUSTING
Cane toads are expected to arrive in Kununurra this Wet. Help Kimberley Toad Busters ‘bust’ and reduce the toad numbers
before the Wet begins. If you have ever thought about joining a toad bust with KTB, NOW is the time!
WHEN: Friday 2nd October, from 4 pm to 11 pm. Bus leaves from Kununurra Leisure Centre
WHERE: Newry Station
AGE: All welcome!
If you miss this event, there are busts leaving most nights from Kununurra!
Activity 2: WHAT’S IN YOUR BACKYARD? At Thompson Springs
The catchment of Thompson Springs is one of the special places of the Kimberley. Come along to help us find the animals that
call Thompson Springs their home before the cane toads arrive. Bring your swimmers!
WHEN: Monday 5th October. Bus leaves Kununurra Leisure Centre at 1 pm and returns at 5.30 pm.
WHERE: Thompson Springs
AGE: All welcome!
Activity 3: HOW TO IDENTIFY CANE TOADS and our native frogs around Kununurra?
Back via popular demand the program run by Kimberley Toad Busters at the last school holiday program. An enormous amount
of fun. Make your own play‐doh cane toad or use finger‐paint for a mural of Kimberley Wildlife. The last program was such a
success after the session one highly trained individual correctly destroyed all the playdoh cane toads in a simulated toad bust.
There were no survivors. We will try and make sure the play‐doh toads survive this time!
WHEN: Thursday 9th October from 2 – 4 pm
WHERE: Kununurra Youth Centre
AGE: All welcome!
For more information on any of the articles contact:
Ruth Duncan: KTB Environmental Scientist 0400 767 650 / 08 9168 2576 email@example.com
Lee Scott Virtue: KTB Co Founder & President 08 9168 7080 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Scott Virtue: KTB Field Co ordinator 08 9168 2576 email@example.com
Mary Anne Winton: KTB Indigenous Coordinator 0488 693 642
All donations are tax deductible.