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Where are the Painted Desert Frogs in NSW?

Update August 2018 ...File now closed
Where are the Painted Desert Frogs in NSW ...not there!  One of the problems for the Painted desert frog (Neobatrachus) is that there is another species that looks similar and occurs in NSW. When people claimed to have heard this desert burrowing frog in the far south west of NSW it got recorded on the Wildlife Atlas as a positive record. Dr White was suspicious because the habitat there was not right. He has visited several times and is convinced they are not there

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Dr Arthur White explains how environmental obligations for a mining company in the south west of NSW could lead to the delisting in NSW of an endangered species. The company engaged Arthur to check whether the Painted Desert Frog was indeed part of the local environment and sought advice on what to do. A previous report claimed the frog did exist in that environment but the report gave no details as to how the frog was identified.

Photo (above) shows desert lakes where Arthur White conducted his survey for the Painted Desert Frog.
Dr White’s investigations had to wait for rain, for that is when the Desert Frogs emerge from underground.
He also wanted to make sure that any frog species was not confused with Sudell’s Frog, which was slightly smaller with less well-defined patterning. The investigation relied on observations and field samples. All water sources were investigated at night and followed up by daylight. This meant checking all sources, from waterholes to puddles. In the first instance the frogs were identified by the calls that were made.

Using this method Dr White could only find Sudell’s Frog. To back up this finding he collected tadpoles from a number of water sources and took them back to Sydney to await their metamorphosis.  He soon found himself with ... an abundance of Sudell's froglets and none of their rare cousins. 

This confirmed his on site observations. Arthur also checked the noted habitats for each frog.
The Desert Painted Frog had been observed in low rocky ranges across the border in South Australia whilst Sudell’s Frog preferred low lying flood plains.

All of the evidence suggested that the Painted Desert Frog did not exist on the mining company’s land and probably did not exist in NSW.

Because his report disputed the earlier recordings Dr White has called on the Department of the Environment and Conservation to go back and confirm whether the Desert Painted Frog does exist in other areas, such as the Scotia Sanctuary of the Darling River. If the Department cannot find evidence of its existence the species will be delisted from the NSW register.
He is also suggesting that it is time for formal standards of identification to be in place so that there is a degree of confidence in any further assessment process.

Text by Victor Barry   June 2007

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