Conservationists in Taiwan are competing to contain the invasion of non-native and highly toxic toads before amphibians cause widespread damage to new ecosystems.
Cane toad (Rhein La Marina) Is a highly toxic toad species native to the Americas, from the central Amazon in Peru to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. However, this species was also introduced in various places around the world in the early 20th century, including most of the Caribbean, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean. Amphibian web..Adult wand Toad The length ranges from 3.5 to 5.9 inches (9 to 15 centimeters), and the yellow and brown skin is covered with irregular warts. When threatened, the cane toad releases a milky toxin called bufotoxin from its skin. It oozes from the glands behind the eyes and is fatal to most animals.
Researchers in Taiwan have learned that cane toads can invade farms in a small town in the central mountains of Taiwan after local residents share pictures of cane toads online. After seeing the pictures, researchers from the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society immediately came to the farm to investigate.
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“When the cane toad was first discovered, a quick and large-scale search operation was essential,” Lin Chun-fu, an amphibian scientist at the Taiwan Endemism Institute, told a French news agency. .. AFP.. They breed rapidly, “there are no natural enemies here in Taiwan,” he added.
When the researchers arrived at the farm, they found 27 toads in the immediate vicinity. Since then, according to AFP, they have captured more than 200 cane toads in the area surrounding the town.
“I was shocked and worried when they found more than 20 [right away]”Yang Yi-ju, a toad expert at Donghua University who organized the search, told AFP.Cane toads are very successful Invasive species.. They are native to only 14 countries, but are currently found in more than 40 countries. Invasive Species Specialist Group, International Advisory Board of Scientists and Policy Experts.
Female cane toads can lay up to 30,000 eggs at a time and can mate all year round. Live science previously reported.. Unlike other toads, which are only predators, cane toads also act as scavengers, so they can always eat a lot of food. Without natural predators, their numbers could explode rapidly and cause serious damage to the ecosystems in which they were introduced.
In the past, in countries suffering from pest problems, people deliberately released these toads. For example, in 1935 Australia introduced toads to eat beetles (Dermolepida albohirtum) The sugar cane field was devastated. However, while toads successfully suppressed the beetle epidemic, toad populations quickly became uncontrollable.
Researchers believe that black market pet trading may have caused the recent invasion of Taiwanese cane toads. According to AFP, the cane toad has long been a popular pet in Taiwan and is also used in traditional medicine. However, in 2016, the Taiwanese government banned the import of cane toads. This has led people to illegally breed and sell cane toads. The main theory is that the invasive cane toad was escaped or abandoned by one of these black market traders.
Researchers also suspect that the invasion began a few months ago and may have been overlooked. “Taiwanese farmers generally ignore toads and see them favorably because they help clear the land of pests and are also a symbol of good luck,” Yang told AFP. rice field. “They didn’t think this was an alien species.”
Researchers are now hoping that they have contained the aggression, but it’s too early to say for sure. “In the spring of the next mating season, we [will] We really know for sure if we have contained it. “
Originally published on Live Science.
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