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Natterjack toadlet release brings to 1,600 the number released in 2023

August 9th

Ready for release. 200 natterjack toads returned to their native Kerry.

I spent a fantastic morning in the Kingdom yesterday on the farm of Tommy Reidy in Castlegregory, releasing a further 200 natterjack toadlets back into their native habitat on the Dingle peninsula.

It's no secret that I have a huge affection for these tiny little creatures, so it's always a pleasure to play a small part in what is a wonderful, collaborative conservation effort between our National Parks and Wildlife Service, Fota Wildlife Park, and local landowners to protect this enigmatic but endangered species.

Small, but hugely important to their native habitat.

Like the 9,000 that have been released since this conservation project began in 2016, these 200 toadlets would have been scooped out of their shallow ponds as spawn and reared in special holding tanks Fota Wildlife Park, before being returned to their native Kerry and released into ponds that have been specially created for them by local farmers via an NPWS pond creation scheme. These tiny toads face enormous challenges for survival and their mortality rate in the wild is a shocking 90%, as they are so vulnerable to predation, land use change, and having their preferred shallow pond habitat dry out during the kind of extended hot weather or dry spell that we saw in June.

Captive rearing like this decreases their mortality rate to as low as 25%, and I have no doubt the tremendous efforts of local farmers and the wider community in Kerry to support this conservation project will go a long way to keeping this native species viable.

And they're off. Our natterjack toadlets rediscover the shallow ponds from whence they came.

As always, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this ongoing collaboration to preserve and restore the natterjack toad population in Kerry, and to those who made today's release possible: local NPWS rangers Brid Colhoun and William Hunt, Sean McKeown and John McLoughlin from Fota Wildlife Park, project lead Dr Ferdia Marnell of the NPWS, and of course the farmer whose land will offer these 200 toadlets with the best chance of survival, Tommy Reidy.

L-R with myself: Brid Colhoun, William Hunt, Sean McKeown, John McLoughlin, Dr. Ferdia Marnell and Tommy Reidy

I'm grateful too to RTÉ's Drivetime show for speaking to me yesterday about the project, and the particular pressures facing the natterjack toad. You can listen back to a snippet below, or check out the full interview here.


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