Subject: Australia Troops Bring Toad Pest to East Timor--NGO
Australian military may have brought toads to Timor: report; Australian
army denies source of ETimor cane toad
Australia Troops Bring Toad Pest to East Timor--NGO
CANBERRA, Sept 9 (Reuters Life!) - Australia's military was accused on
Tuesday of opening the gates to an invasion force of cane toad pests
when it led international peacekeepers into East Timor to end a
pro-Indonesia militia slaughter there in 1999.
Australian soldiers arriving in Dili inadvertently brought with them a
number of the toxic toads, which have overrun vast swathes of
Australia's tropical north in the past 70 years, a senior aid worker in
the fledgling nation said.
"So many toads in East Timor. We don't know how to get them away, how to
kill them," Simplicio Barbosa of aid agency Care International told
Scientists introduced cane toads to Australia from Hawaii in 1935 in a
failed bid to control sugar cane beetle. Native to Central America, the
ugly warty amphibians can grow as big as dinner plates and weigh up to
2.6 kg (5.8 lb). Poison glands in their skin make them toxic to
predators, including crocodiles.
The 3,000 toads originally released into the Australian wild have
multiplied to more than 200 million today, covering close to a quarter
of the country, including the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National
Barbosa said cane toads had hitched a lift to East Timor hidden in
trucks and equipment used by the Australian-led International Force for
East Timor, which landed in September 1999 with the backing of the
United Nations Security Council.
Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said on Tuesday he would
investigate the accusations, but promised his military had "strict
East Timor, which only gained full independence in 2002, has struggled
to get back on its feet after the army fractured along regional lines in
2006, triggering violence that killed 37 people and drove 150,000 from
their homes. (Reporting by Rob Taylor; editing by Roger Crabb)
Australian military may have brought toads to Timor: report
16 hours ago
SYDNEY (AFP) ? The Australian military may have deployed more than just
soldiers in East Timor -- reports said Tuesday it could also have
inadvertently introduced the pesky cane toad to the fledgling nation.
The toad, which carries a poisonous sac of venom on the back of its head
toxic enough to kill snakes and crocodiles in minutes, is regarded as a
noxious pest Down Under because it wreaks havoc on the environment.
Local media reported that the warty amphibian could have been making its
way to East Timor hidden in Australian Defence Force vehicles and
equipment since the force first intervened in East Timor in 1999.
Simplicio Barbosa, of Dili-based humanitarian organisation Care
International, said the toads arrived along with the International Force
for East Timor (INTERFET).
"(There are) so many toads in East Timor, they are brought by the
INTERFET," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding that
the animals were killing lots of chickens.
"We don't know how to get them away, how to kill them."
Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said he would investigate if
the toads, which spread widely throughout Australia's north since their
introduction in the 1930s, could have breached the military's quarantine
"I have not had an opportunity to seek a briefing from the Chief of the
Defence Force but I will certainly do so," he told reporters in the
northern city of Darwin, which suffers its own cane toad problem.
Darwin's Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer said it was likely the toads stowed
away on military vehicles leaving the city, the departure point for many
Australian troops heading to East Timor, and ended up in Dili.
"Cane toads are fantastic hitchhikers; they love crawling up under
machinery and stuff to refuge during the day," he told the ABC.
"Also, they get into loads of freight and stuff, they've turned up all
over Australia in that mode, so it's quite likely."
The cane toad is extremely unpopular in Australia and some residents of
toad-infested areas have taken to killing them by driving their cars
over them or smashing them with golf clubs and cricket bats.
All attempts to fight the spread of the toads so far have failed and the
animals, which are explosive breeders, have spread into the wetlands of
world heritage Kakadu National Park.
Australian army denies source of ETimor cane toad
Updated September 9, 2008 16:44:32
The Australian Defence Force says it is aware of claims cane toads were
introduced by Australia's first military intervention in East Timor in
The ADF says that in the past nine years, vehicles and equipment from a
number of commercial, government and non-government organisations have
been transported from Australian ports to East Timor.
However, it says it would be difficult to pinpoint the source of any
introduced species, and that Australian facilities in East Timor are
subject to stringent environmental health checks.
Simplicio Barbosa of the Dili-based Care International says he believes
cane toads arrived with the International Force for East Timor.
"[There are] so many toads in East Timor, they are brought by the
INTERFET in that moment," he said.
"We don't know how to get them away, how to kill them.
"They should have think about that.
"It [is] actually bad for this country."
Cane toads, native to South and Central America, were introduced in
Australia last century to control a beetle population.
They have no natural predators and have bred to pest proportions.
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