02 August 2011

Saving the endangered Western leopard toad: City starts toad-ally necessary education campaign

Grant Wood
Photo courtesy Dagny Warmerdam

The Western leopard toad is an endangered species that is endemic to Cape Town. It is referred to as an indicator species – its presence is indicative of a healthy fauna biodiversity as it eats pests. Conversely, its absence suggests unsuitable conditions like pollution.

Everyone is on alert at the moment, as the toads could start moving soon. Some say the toads start migrating to their breeding sites when there is a source of natural light, and are therefore prone to move in the weeks prior to and after the full moon, around 10 August.

City of Cape Town Alderman Belinda Walker explains that, for 11 months of the year, the toads live away from water but, during August, will migrate to water or wetlands to breed. She also encourages people to be extra vigilant in November, when baby toads make their way to their urban home.

From 1 to 12 August an environmental education team from the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department will visit 27 Cape Town schools in the distribution range of the Western leopard toad (South Peninsula). The team will give learners a close look at this unique amphibian, and hopefully create a deeper awareness of how necessary this toad is to maintain equilibrium in the biodiversity of the local environment.

The team will also explain the importance of safeguarding the toads’ breeding sites, and conservation actions to significantly enhance the toads’ survival rate.

Photo courtesy Marius Burger

Besides this, the education team will also provide answers to basic questions, such as: What is the difference between a frog and a toad?

Did you know? The Western leopard toad at the Two Oceans Aquarium is called Teddy the tongueless toad. Meet him here.

The city’s education campaign will also place a strong emphasis on how to create an urban-biodiversity friendly garden. It needs to be understood that all life – no matter what species – plays a role in the ecological circle.

The Western leopard toad exhibits a unique trait: it lives in suburbs, gardens, open spaces and storm-water retention ponds.

There are opportunities for you to help with the conservation plan. According to the Western leopard toad website, there are volunteer groups you may join to help the toads move back into suburbia.

If you would like to help this great cause, call the Western leopard toad hotline at +27 (0)82 516 3602.

blog comments powered by Disqus