A preliminary risk assessment of cane toads in Kakadu National Park

Supervising Scientist Report 164
van Dam RA, Walden DJ and Begg GW
Supervising Scientist, 2002
ISSN 1325-1554
ISBN 0 642 24370 0

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About the report

Cane toads (Bufo marinus) entered the Northern Territory (NT) in 1980 from Queensland and are rapidly approaching Kakadu National Park (KNP), having recently been reported in the upper Mann River and Snowdrop Creek, approximately 15-30 km to the east of Kakadu National Park. Concern about the invasion of cane toads in Kakadu National Park has been highlighted on a number of occasions, and in 1998 participants at a workshop on the potential impacts and control of cane toads in Kakadu National Park conceded that a strategic approach for assessing and possibly minimising cane toad impacts should be developed. The first stage would be an ecological risk assessment to predict the likely extent of impacts of cane toads in Kakadu National Park and identify key vulnerable habitats and species. This information could be used to develop new monitoring programs and assess existing ones. This assessment is a direct result of Environment Australia's concern about the potential impacts of cane toads in Kakadu National Park.

The wetland risk assessment framework developed by eriss for the Ramsar Convention was used to predict key habitats and the species most at risk. The majority of the assessment involved identifying the problem, the potential extent and effects of the problem, the risk, and subsequently making recommendations on monitoring. Major information gaps relevant to predicting impacts and developing appropriate monitoring programs were also identified.

The risk assessment was based on information from published and unpublished scientific and anecdotal reports. Information on Kakadu National Park was derived from relevant research projects undertaken in the Park since the early 1980s. A number of relevant Territory and Commonwealth agencies were consulted, as were relevant cane toad, native fauna and/or wildlife management experts from around Australia. Discussions were held with community members in the Borroloola and Mataranka regions to gain an indigenous/cultural perspective of the cane toad issue.