A relative of the cane toad, which has devastated wildlife in Australia, has invaded Madagascar, scientists report.
The Asian common toad was first seen on the island in March, and there have been several sightings since.
In a letter to the journal Nature, researchers warn that the arrival of the amphibian could cause “an ecological disaster” and wreak havoc on the country’s unique fauna.
They say that urgent action is needed to remove the toads before they spread.
The fear is that the poisonous amphibians could poison local wildlife and carry diseases, such as the deadly chytrid fungus that has killed amphibians around the world.
One of the authors, Jonathan Kolby, of James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, said: “It’s worrying because Madagascar has amazing endemic biodiversity – plants, animals and amphibians that are found nowhere else.
“And this one species has the propensity to damage that.”
The amphibians were first seen in Toamasina, the main port of Madagascar. It is thought that they arrived in shipping containers from their native home in South East Asia.
“They are a very hardy and adaptable species,” said Mr Kolby.