Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

'Extinct' frog found in Australia

Yellow spotted frog
Yellow-spotted Bell Frogs in the Southern Tablelands, New South Wales

A frog species thought to have been extinct for more than three decades has been sighted in farmland in Australia.

A thriving community of yellow spotted bell frog has been identified in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales.

NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor said the discovery was a reminder of the importance of protecting natural habitats.

"I'm advised that finding this frog is as significant a discovery as a Tasmanian tiger," he added.

"This discovery is a reminder of the need to protect this environment so future generations can enjoy the noise and colour of our native animals."

The frog species' continued existence was first spotted in 2008. Experts then followed up the sighting and have now confirmed the identification.

It is the first sighting since 1973. Mr Sartor said the location of the frogs would remain secret to ensure the survival of the species. There are plans to breed the animals at Taraonga Zoo for re-introduction to the wild.

The International Union for Conversation of Nature says one-third of the world's 6,000 amphibian species are under threat of extinction.

Mike Tyler, a frog expert at the University of Adelaide, told the Associated Press that at least a dozen species of Australian frogs were critically endangered and probably more that were not yet known about.

"In the last decade, three new species of frog have been discovered in the Kimberley," he said. The Kimberley is a northern region of Western Australia state.

"I know of two more in the Northern Territory which haven't even yet been described... one of the specimens is sitting here on my desk looking at me."

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