The cane toad (Rhinella marina
), a species on the list of the 100 Worst Invasive Species, had not been found in the wild in Taiwan before. However, a team of amphibian conservation volunteers found 27 cane toads in a vegetable garden in Caotun, Nantou, on November 7. After Professor Yang Yi-Ju of National Dong Hwa University contacted the Forestry Bureau, a team of 15 people, including volunteers, teachers from the local elementary school, and the owner of the vegetable garden, removed 27 toads on the night of November 7 to avoid its spread. Recently, the conservation volunteers and the staff of the Endemic Species Research Institute (ESRI) have continued to carry out searches, and about 50 toads have been removed so far.
Cane toads are native to the tropical regions of the Americas. In the past, cane toads were introduced to many countries around the world as a pest control measure for sugar cane, bananas, and other cash crops. However, due to their large size, the cane toads can reach a maximum length of over 30 centimeters. As these toads have a voracious appetite, they will feed on all the animals they can catch in their habitat, even eating dog food. In addition, the poison gland (parotid gland) of the cane toad is large and distinctive, and appears as a triangular protrusion when viewed from above. If the toad is provoked, or under stress, such as being bitten by a predator, it may emit venom from the parotid gland, which can cover a distance of over one meter. This means that the toad is a threat to native animals and may also cause the death of dogs and cats through accidental ingestion.
Cane toads have already caused serious threats to biodiversity in Australia, Japan, and the Philippines. Although only a relatively small population has been found in Nantou's Caotun, these specimens are all adult toads, measuring about 10 to 15 centimeters in length. Both male and female toads have been found, but no tadpoles or juveniles have been found yet due to the season. Professor Yang Yi-Ju said that the lifespan of cane toads is generally 10 to 15 years, but they can be reared in captivity for up to 30 years, laying as few as 8,000 eggs and as many as 30,000 eggs at a time. If it spreads, it will have a very serious impact on the environment.
To remove the cane toads as soon as possible, the Forestry Bureau has asked the Nantou Forest District Office, Professor Yang Yi-Ju, the amphibian conservation volunteer team, ESRI, and the Nantou County Government to formulate an emergency removal strategy, using the current discovery site as the core area and drawing up a grid system expanding 200 meters outward. A blanket search for signs of the cane toad will be carried out for each grid by a team of volunteers and conservationists to remove the toads. The search area will continue to be extended to neighboring towns to confirm the actual extent of the cane toads' spread.
The Nantou Forest District Office of the Forestry Bureau requests the public to report online any sightings of cane toads via the Facebook group "Amphibian Conservation Volunteers
" , or to the Nantou County Government by calling the 1999 hotline to help speed up the cane toad removal process.