Green and Golden Bell bred back from the brink
By KAT MULLARD
WHEN Kermit the Frog said 'it's not easy being green', he didn't have someone like Peter Johnson by his side.
Mr Johnson, a self-proclaimed frog enthusiast, has been breeding a highly endangered species of frog, called the Green and Golden Bell, and will soon release them back into their natural habitat.
"Last year we released 5000 of the Green and Golden Bell tadpoles and this year we have had reported sightings of the adult frogs from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Before their release last year they hadn't been seen in the area for 10 to 15 years.
"Now we are about to top up the population by releasing 5000 more," he said.
The frogs are bred in Coffs Harbour by Mr Johnson under a NPWS-approved program, and then flown to a release site in Pambula, on the South Coast of New South Wales.
Mr Johnson said his inspiration to breed the frogs came about 25 years ago when he was living in Pambula and started to notice the disappearance of the frogs in the wild.
When he moved to Coffs Harbour four years ago, his frogs came with him.
"The Green and Golden Bell Frog was once a very common species, but they are now only found in isolated pockets. They are a pond-dwelling frog and are unusual in the fact that they sunbake from sun up to sun down.
"The decline of the species coincided with the hole in the ozone layer over south-east NSW in the early 1980s, and now they now have a chance to re-establish," he said.
Mr Johnson is looking to do similar projects in the Coffs Harbour area, and also hopes to open a frog education centre in Coffs Harbour by the end of May.
Approximately 28 species of rare and endangered Australian frogs, including the Green and Golden Bell Frog and the Giant Barred Frog, will be on display for school groups and interested people.