Cane toads are the stars of a new film by Mark Lewis.
IT is easy to judge the cane toad for the destruction it has caused since being introduced into Australia in 1935.
Originally brought in to control the greyback cane beetle that was obliterating sugarcane crops, the amphibian showed no interest in the beetle or in hanging around tropical North Queensland, and opted to head west, multiplying as it went.
Of all the cane toad’s faults, its survival in the harsh landscape of our great nation is one of nature’s biggest conquests.
One man who has documented this unwelcome and notorious creature’s relentless march is acclaimed filmmaker Mark Lewis.
Although Mr Lewis admits he is more “pro-toad” than not, he gives a balanced, quirky, comical and informative look at one of Australia’s biggest environmental blunders in his new documentary Cane Toads: The Conquest.
This film is not Lewis’s first about this alien-looking creature.
In 1988, he filmed Cane Toads: An Unnatural History.
Back then, the area cane toads occupied was smaller – only Queensland and part of the Northern Territory.
Now, the poisonous creature has ventured into some of the country’s most diverse and beautiful ecosystems.
Since the original and second documentary, cane toads have reached Western Australia.
In the outback, even the toughest and most-adapted native animals have difficulty surviving, let alone an introduced species.
But the cane toad population has grown exponentially since the 1930s.
More than 100 cane toads were introduced at the Mulgrave River near Gordonvale, Queensland, in August 1935 and now these creatures number more than 1.5 billion.
As Mr Lewis follows the unstoppable journey of the cane toad across the continent in his new film, he introduces viewers to a host of engaging characters as well as thousands of toads.
“All the characters in the film are amazing and it wouldn’t be the same without them,” Mr Lewis said.
Cane Toads: The Conquest is now showing at selected cinemas.
An estimated 200 tonnes of cane toad flesh is squelched on Queensland roads each year.
Veterinarians have recorded cases of clever dogs consistently licking toads in controlled doses to enjoy effects of the venom. In 2008, a cane toad named Spew survived 40 minutes in a dog’s stomach after being swallowed whole (dog and toad were unharmed).
source: Tweed Daily News
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