“Help! The land next to our offices in Lanseria has been cleared for a car park and the giant bullfrogs are under threat in this entire area. Do you know of any immediate safe suitable habitat for relocation of these beautiful creatures?” This urgent request for assistance was sent to the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy committee by Christine Garbett late on Friday afternoon, 22 January.
Christine and Rob Garbett own Professional Aviation, next to Lanseria Airport. “Some of the bullfrogs arrived on our office property,” said an upset Christine. “We rescued a few from the bulldozers but the damage is done and if any others survived they will be buried under tar. They may just dig further down which will be fatal. This all happened so suddenly - time is not on our side.”
The RNC committee immediately contacted Harmen den Dulk at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) for help, wondering whether we had to wait until the Monday for a response. But Harmen's response was immediate. Over the weekend he forwarded our request to a colleague, Nico Grobler, asking: “Can you help to get this bullfrog crisis to the right experts, please?”
Nico was equally fast off the mark and immediately contacted Gavin Masterson, GDARD's herpetologist . Gavin responded, expressing his appreciation for Christine's concern for the plight of the bullfrogs.
When asked if the Giant Bullfrogs could be relocated to a new ‘safe’ area, he replied: “Moving adult Giant Bullfrogs to new areas is not legally allowed without a permit. It is also not recommended because relocated individuals may become disorientated and trek long distances in search of their original location.”
This can lead to the death of the relocated animals, defeating the point of rescuing them in the first place, says Gavin.
It seems the Lanseria bullfrogs have been caught between a rock and a parking place.