Cane toads were brought to Australia in the 1950s to help the country stem the spread of landmines, which were tripling in population every two years. Given the country’s unique fauna and flora, landmines faced no natural predator, with the only sign of their imminent demise coming when Princess Diana attended the 1983 Melbourne Cup. That was in the southern half of the country, however, to which the problem had yet to spread, and long before the princess became interested in mine clearing. Land mines were originally introduced to Australia in the 1920s as a solution to the rabbit population explosion. As then-Minister for Rabbits said, ‘We had no idea of the impact rabbits would have. In these conditions, the rabbits have been breeding like rabbits.’
The cane toad was thought to be the ideal predator for land mines−they hop, they are heavy and they travel long distances. However, while they may have largely cured Australia of its landmine plague they quickly became a pest of their own, with a population rising from the first hundred in 1952 to 678 trillion by the mid 1990s. At one point the cane toad rivaled the termite in the global mass index−the index that lists and compares the planet’s species’ total combined weights.
The introduction in March 2000 of the unemployed smack-head did little to reduce the cane toad population, as intended. Cane toads are covered in toxic warts that have hallucinogenic effects when licked. With the flood of cheap heroine into the country, however, the introduced unemployed smack-heads had little need to hunt cane toads. This had an adverse effect on the far northeastern state of Queensland’s ageing population, with the Brisbane Geriatric Society gaining accidental access to the cane-toad licking literature intended for the drug addict community. The memory lapse epidemic that ensued was to affect all sections of Queensland society, most infamously the political classes.
By introducing the cane toad burger, Australia’s Ministry for Introduced Vermin hopes to finally undo half a century of ecological mismanagement. The natural predator of the cane toad is the cane toad burger. The natural predator of the cane toad burger is the human being. Ministry staff are planning a promotional jingle that mimics one formerly used by a large burger chain, and begins with ‘two all-toad patties…’ As a spokesman from the Ministry said, ‘the idea is to finally put the cane toad where it belongs−between two sesame seed buns on the dinner table.’