The Loathsome Baki

The cane toad (Bufo marinus) is so common and ubiquitous in the Philippines that most people would think that it's a native of this country. In fact it was introduced into the country 73 years ago and had adapted so well that it can now be found in almost every corner of the country.

A number of these toads or frogs were imported from the Hawaii Sugar Planters' Association on Oahu, Hawaii to Manila in March 1934 and released in sugar plantations to control insect pests. Releases were also made in Negros in 1935-36, in Panay and Guimaras in 1936-39 and in 1949 they were taken to Cotabato. Some were taken from Dumaguete and released in Zamboanga City and Davao in the 1950s.

Whether the toads were successful in doing the job they were originally brought in to do or not was not known as there were no study or data available regarding their success or failure in controlling noxious insects.

However these toads themselves are poisonous and they eat almost anything that are small enough to fit in their mouths - insects, other frogs, small mammals and birds even the food people put out for their pets! They have poison glands behind their eyes from which a milky toxic secretion is produced when they are attacked or handled. This substance is dangerous to all species including humans. Contact with it causes burning in the eyes and hands and skin irritation in people, while ingestion could be fatal. Animals like cats and dogs, snakes and monitor lizards that eat or try to eat a cane toad often die of poisoning. Therefore it was thought that these aliens creatures kill many wild as well as domestic animals and may have caused the decline of many native animals both by devouring them and by their poison.

In Australia where cane toads were introduced for the same reasons in 1935, there are much evidence of the havoc they have wrecked on the native animals as well great nuisance to people. Much effort had been and is being spent in an unending battle to stop their spread in the whole
of Australia.
The Bisaya word for the Cane Toad, aka Marine Toad aka Gaint Toad/Frog is Baki. I wonder why the Tagalogs give it such a noble name - Palakang Nazareth??

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