Hopping into science
IN A twist on the fairytale story, it is a King who is kissing frogs at Knockrow - and it is hoped this kiss of life will lead to a fairytale ending for local endangered species.
Macadamia Castle owner King Tony Gilding yesterday announced a $500,000 upgrade to the popular tourist attraction, which will include an educational Frog Conservation Pod.
The purpose-built pod will be the pad where that special breeding magic will happen to try and offset the general decline of frog populations in the wild.
The public will be able to look in on the frogs and learn more about the amphibians, but the 12-metre shipping container pod will be a sealed, sterile facility.
Mr Gilding said this was part of the move to make Macadamia Castle a conservation park rather than an animal park.
The Castle will partner with Southern Cross Uni- versity in the project.
Dr David Newell, a frog expert and lecturer in the university's School of Environment, Science and Engineering, said many species of frogs around the world are endangered.
He said the chytrid fungus and loss of habitat were big players in population declines.
He said there were just over 25 species of frogs on the North Coast, with some faring well, while others need that kiss of life - which could come from a King or people building frog-friendly habitats in their backyards.
He said university students would be able to get involved in the Knockrow frog-breeding program, and also use the pod for research.
The local frog pod will be only the second facility of its kind in NSW, with Sydney's Taronga Zoo having the other.
The pod is expected to be built by the end of this year, and the breeding program will start on species that aren't endangered to allow staff to build up their skills before moving on to local endangered species.
The pod was the brainchild of park manager Nick Bourke.
The Federal Government chipped in with a $227,475 Tourism Industry Regional Development Fund grant to help fund not only the frog pod, but the construction of three covered areas in the popular park, which also will be built by the end of the year.
Page MP Janelle Saffin said improvements at the park would lead to increases in visitors and potentially more jobs.
How to help frogs
Build a pond
in your yard
the water moving
Have vegetation around the pond
Build the pond high to help keep cane toads out
Don't touch frogs unless your hands are clean and moist