Cane Toads: The Conquest

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 24min


Rhinella marina

The cane toad, aka the giant neotropical or marine toad of Central and South America, was introduced into Queensland as sugar-cane pest control in 1935. Big mistake. Not only have the toads turned into Plague Central but their pest-effectiveness is nil and they’re serious breeders whose females can lay between 30,000 and 40,000 eggs — twice a year!


Film-maker Mark Lewis first got close to the toads in his 1988 documentary Cane Toads: An Unnatural History. With the creatures now out of hand, he and his beady-eyed cameras are back, trawling Queensland and the Northern Territory for to-camera comments from anyone and everyone toadworthy. (Kev’s Travelling Toad Show defies description; ditto a collection of toadskin caps and handbags.) The Conquest is sometimes funny, in a free and easy, specifically Australian sense. But while they do have their admirers, the toads are also toxic and hardier than everybody thought. And with one million square kilometres currently occupied and the hordes heading towards Western Australia, the burning question has to be: how do we get the jump on them?