Subject: Timor cane toad search draws blank 

Timor cane toad search draws blank

February 1st, 2010 NT News

A DARWIN man has spent three weeks in East Timor searching for cane toads after a report Interfet soldiers may have brought the pests into the country.

Rob Wesley-Smith found none of the cane toad variety, but plenty of similar looking Asian toads.

Mr Wesley-Smith said it had only been "southerners" who had claimed to have found the cane toad in East Timor.

So, armed with a stuffed cane toad, courtesy of Darwin Lord Mayor Graeme Sawyer, he set out to see if any of the dreaded bufo marinus had crossed the Timor Sea.

After three weeks on the hunt Mr Wesley-Smith concluded the only toad introduced to East Timor was the Asian toad, brought in by Indonesian troops during the Timorese occupation.

"I didn't see any cane toads in East Timor, didn't meet anyone who reliably could claim to have seen one," Mr Wesley-Smith said.

"(I did see) plenty of similar Asian toads, which appear to be spreading."

Mr Wesley-Smith said the Asian toads were causing similar problems in East Timor as the dreaded cane toads of the Northern Territory.

"We have heard about snakes eating them and dying so the mouse population increases," he said. 

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