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Auckland landowners praised for conservation efforts

21 November 2012

Landowners praised for conservation efforts

Business and private landowners in Rodney are being praised for their role in protecting Auckland’s only native frog.

A recent survey of the Hochstetters frog in streambeds around Dome Valley and Warkworth found a population of 41. This significant find will be crucial to conservation work for this threatened species.

Hochsetters frogs are vulnerable to predation by rats, cats and mustelids such as stoats. They are also under threat from habitat loss.

Auckland Council ecologists working on the survey say the voluntary help of landowners has been crucial to their work. Rayonier Matariki Forests – one of the largest forestry companies in the country – was among the volunteers.

“In order for us to protect this species, the only native frog found naturally in our region, we need to be able to find out more about them,” says Environmental Services Manager Janis McArdle.

“Property boundaries mean nothing to frogs, so we want to thank the property owners who allowed us access to their properties for our survey work.”

In many cases, landowners have become very active in helping the frogs. Some are voluntarily protecting stream habitat by retaining native vegetation in a buffer strip along the stream edge. Some have been fencing streams to prevent stock access.

This work will have a significant impact on the long-term survival of these tiny and vulnerable creatures.

“Biodiversity is incredibly important to our region. We hope to continue frog surveys and working with landowners to improve our understanding of this wonderful and unique species."

Hochstetters frogs found between Waipu and Moir Hill are genetically different to those in the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges.

They are the rarest and the most at risk of extinction due to the risk of significant habitat loss.

Hochsetter’s frog
• The Hochstetters frog is a threatened endemic species and belongs to an ancient group of frogs.

• The frog is small - up to 48mm. It is also nocturnal, well-camouflaged, and unlike introduced species they squeak rather than croak.

• NZ has four species of native Leiopelma frogs. The Hochstetters frog is the most widespread but their actual distribution and numbers are not well known.

• Frog numbers are declining everywhere in the world. Frogs are very sensitive to changes in their environment and for this reason they are used as a barometer of ecosystem health.

• If the public finds native, frogs they can report their sightings to Auckland Council on 301 0101 or the Department of Conservation.

• People should avoid handling frogs as they may damage the frog’s sensitive skin.

ENDS

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