Two new populations of the threatened orange-bellied frog (Geocrinia vitellina) have been discovered in the Blackwood River National Park, south-east of the Margaret River townsite.
Department of Parks and Wildlife conservation officer Christine Fleay said the discovery extends the known range of the orange-bellied frog by 37 per cent – a significant increase for what is one of the most restricted vertebrate species in Australia.
“The discovery of two new populations with over 50 individuals has come at a crucial time, given the other six populations have been steadily declining over the last 10 years,” Ms Fleay said.
“These thumbnail-sized frogs are listed as vulnerable to extinction and are threatened by bushfire, changes in rainfall, damage by feral pigs and burial by eroded sediments.”
She said Parks and Wildlife were taking measures to protect the new populations, including erosion remediation, rubbish clean-up and track redirections and/or closures.
“Parks and Wildlife asked the public to help protect the frogs and their highly-restricted habitat from campfire escapes, litter and sediment erosion by observing signage and only camping at the national park’s designated campsites at Sues Bridge or Warner Glen,” she said.
The orange-bellied frog was first discovered in 1983 and a recovery plan for the species and the closely related white-bellied frog (Geocrinia alba) commenced in 1994, with an updated plan released in 2014.
Ms Fleay said translocating existing populations was a key action of the plan.