1987, 47 Minutes
An investigation of biological control gone wrong - this stylised, offbeat documentary takes a close look at Australia’s cane toad pest problem.
Bufo Marinus, the cane toad, was imported into Queensland from Hawaii in 1935 for a specific reason - to combat the grey-back beetle that was destroying the sugar cane crop. The mission failed: the beetle would and the cane toad couldn't. Oblivious of its failure, the cane toad adapted to its new surroundings and proceeded to breed so rapidly that it has now become a pest of plague proportions, spreading at the rate of 27 kilometres a year.
This probing documentary shows how cane toads have become an accepted part of local culture and popular mythology The film is unique in the intensity of its investigation and its exploration of the many varied reactions to the toad. Besides the hard facts of biologists and experts, the film expands its perimeter of interest by going to the people among whom cane toads live. Here, we are assured firsthand, are those who find this creature to be endearing.
We see that as cane toads have spread geographically, they have also crawled through all social milieu - from old timers who keep them as pets to children who dress them like dolls. A wide cross-section of people from drug abusers to bookbinders to local dignitaries all have found positive values in the cane toad. Reactions vary from the sublime to the sacrilegious. But, whatever it provokes, the cane toad is here to stay.
This stylised, offbeat documentary is thought provoking as well as entertaining because of its unusual mix of biological fact with off-the-cuff comment. It presents an intriguing situation with questions to answer and issues to debate. By continually expanding the circle of interest that surrounds the toad, it reaches the viewer on both an emotional and intellectual level.
A Film Australia Production. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Mark Lewis
Running Time: 47 Minutes
Featured People: Tip Byrne, Dr HW Kerr, RW (Reg) Mungomery, Dr Glen Ingram, Dr Bill Freeland, ES (Tom) Edgerton, Keith Chandler, Pat White, John Oakes, Patrick Cook, David Sondergard, Dr Rob Floyd, Elvie Grieg, Max Ackland, Brian Hawke, Dr Bob Endean, Dr Michael Archer, Bill Lane, Syd Churchill, Paul De Vine, Marie Roth, Monica Krauss, Bettina Dalton, Bill Hey, Brent Vincent
Curriculum Links: Biodiversity, Conservation, Geography, Environmental Studies, Science (general and biology), SOSE, HSIE (Geography Stage 6), History, English. Of particular relevance to NSW Geography Stage 5A3 'Issues in Australian Environments'.