Given its smallness, many not much bigger than your thumbnail, Archey’s frog has an impressive conservation status: the world’s most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibian.
The native frog has been found in only three New Zealand locations, including the Whareorino Forest in the King Country, and is one of New Zealand’s 4,000 species known to be threatened or at risk of becoming extinct. Archey’s frog is a unique little frog: it can’t croak, doesn’t have external ears, and hatches its young as froglets not tadpoles!
The frog’s seriously low population is an example of the decline in New Zealand’s biodiversity. Birds, plants, fish, insects - on land, in fresh water and the sea – are all interdependent. A diverse range of native species is vital for their and our survival.
If Archey’s frog is thriving, other native species are thriving too. Its presence is living proof of a healthy, well-balanced environment.
A number of factors make the rare frog particularly vulnerable. They are highly susceptible to diseases, toxins and dominant populations of rats.
In 2018 the bait stations originally used to control rats in the frog sanctuary, were replaced with 1,300 toxin-free, automatically resetting A24 traps over 600 hectares (equivalent to approximately 600 rugby fields).
The Department of Conservation (DOC) was concerned about the impact of new diseases spreading in the area which would further threaten Archey’s frog’s existence. Moving to Goodnature’s automatic resetting A24 traps meant refreshing the lure twice a year, instead of every second month for the bait stations.
“The reduced effort from using the automatic resetting A24 traps minimises the interaction between people and frogs so lessens the risk of disease. It also frees people up to set more traps - to expand the controlled area.” – Paddy Stewart, Red Admiral Ecology
Every year in the Whareorino Forest, DOC carries out an annual survey to analyse how the population of rats and frogs is changing over time.
Fewer rats means more frogs.
DOC’s rat control programme has been a huge success. In the Whareorino frog area controlled by A24 traps, the number of rats is now so low they’re undetectable. And significantly more frogs have been found in unexpected places. In the frog habitat without A24 traps, the frog population is stable or declining.
Curious to learn more about endangered Archey’s frog?
Listen to an interview on Radio New Zealand:
Read about Archey’s frog on The Department of Conservation’s website: https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/reptiles-and-frogs/frogs-pepeketua/archeys-frog
Photo source: Department of Conservation