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Traps to protect evolutionarily distinct and endangered frog

Trap network to protect world’s most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered frog. 1300 self-resetting traps to protect one of New Zealand’s only native frogs, the Archey’s frog

One of New Zealand’s most bizarre and rarest creatures is getting an expanded line of defence via a self-resetting trap network in the Whareorino Forest in Waikato.

The Archey’s frog, one of only two native frogs found on mainland New Zealand, is being protected by a network of self-resetting traps as part of the Department of Conservation’s Whareorino Frog Protection programme. The project will see 1300 Goodnature self-resetting A24 rat traps being deployed to double the protected area 600 hectares in the northern area of Whareorino.

Traps have just been dropped into Whareorino Forest by helicopter and will be distributed along marked trap lines by DOC staff from Te Kuiti and Pureora. The aim of the project is to control predators – principally rats - of the endangered Archey’s frog. This frog species is found in only three places in New Zealand – the Whareorino Forest, Pureora Forest near Te Kuiti and on Coromandel Peninsula.

Described as the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered amphibian by global conservation initiative EDGE, the Archey’s frog has strange features like muscles for tail-wagging, despite not having a tail, and an abnormally high number of vertebrae. Unlike most frogs, the Archey’s frog can’t croak, they don’t have ear drums, and young hatch as froglets so they don’t have a tadpole stage.

Goodnature Technical Expert Sam Gibson says, “New Zealand is known for its stunning native birds, though our other extraordinary native species like the Archey’s frog are often overlooked. Frogs are a vital part of our global ecosystems and are an indicator species for the health of ecosystems.”

“The Archey’s frog is also susceptible to diseases spread by humans, so the self-resetting nature of our traps will limit the interaction between humans and frogs, and hopefully reduce the risk of spreading disease. It’s these complex, high-need projects we love to be a part of at Goodnature.” Gibson says.

DOC Te Kuiti Community Ranger Kina Tucker says Archey’s frog is an incredibly unique species which we do not want to see disappear forever like so many other species of frogs around the world.

“The population of Archey’s frogs in Whareorino is a stronghold for Archey’s frog and could be described as NZ’s only mainland frog sanctuary. This population has enabled us to provide frogs for translocation projects and study in other places in New Zealand,” Tucker says.

“We need to protect these delicate creatures for future generations so we can maintain a natural New Zealand ecosystem that boasts biodiversity.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Archey’s frog as Critically Endangered, because of the threat from introduced predators, and due to diseases likechytridiomycosis, caused by the chytrid fungus which is easily spread via humans and frogs.

The A24, developed by Wellington Conservation company Goodnature in partnership with DOC, is the world’s only predator trap which self-resets up to 24 times before it needs to be reloaded by a human. Traditional traps need to be checked every two weeks while the A24 rat trap only needs to be checked every six months when using the automatic lure pump (ALP) system, which allows lure to be kept fresh and enticing for up to six months.
ENDS

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