Seven frog species in Australia are getting closer to extinction. If there will be no immediate action in preserving the species, its population will be totally wiped out by the killer fungus, research says.

Biologists from Taronga Zoo, University of Melbourne, James Cook University and Southern Cross University in Lismore said that the seven frog species can still be saved from extinction by allotting a budget for research and disease management.

According to lead author Lee Skerratt from University of Melbourne, six Australian frogs are already extinct due to chytridiomycosis. With a fund of $15 million for research and management program, other seven species can be saved from extinction within five years.

"The deadly chytrid fungus has already wiped out six frog species since it reached Australia in 1978," said David Newell of Southern Cross University, Lismore.

The seven frogs that are at risk are the northern and southern corroboree from New South Wales, the baw baw frog from Victoria, Litoria Spenceri or the spotted tree frog from Victoria, New South Wales, kroombit tinkerfrog of Queensland, the armored mist frog from Queensland, and Tasmanian tree frog of Tasmania.

Some of the frogs that are at risk already have a program in place in dealing with chytrid fungus.

The first threat abatement program was developed in 2006, for captive breeding.

"Unfortunately, there hasn't been any funds attached to the new threat abatement plan and there really needs to be, because we're a long way from being able to save these species," said Newell.

Inquiries regarding the funding can be directed to Mr. Gregory Andrews, Threatened Species Commissioner.

"Putting a cost on a program before it has been designed is like asking how long is a piece of string," said Andrews.

However Andrews agreed that it is a must to quickly tackle the problem on chytridiomycosis threatening the frog species.

Andrews' office already runs a program in protecting the southern corroboree frogs.

"We built large chytrid-free outdoor enclosures in Kosciuszko National Park. We now have more than 200 in these enclosures, with a goal to have them to at 600 within a year," he added.

Though according to Newell this work still needs more support, saying that the $15 million funding is just an estimate from experts on chytrid fungus.

He added that the funding is a must for developing captive husbandry techniques to maintain the population of the threatened frog species.

In the study, researchers also mentioned 22 frog species which are at low and moderate risk from chytridiomycosis.

Chytrid fungus attacks the frog's skin, making it difficult for them to breathe and manage their hydration.

Photo: Feroze Omardeen | Flickr

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