Watch out for western leopard toads

The Western leopard toad's annual breeding time is usually in the first few days of August.

Motorists have been warned to be on the lookout for endangered western leopard toads, which are on the move during their annual breeding season.

What should be a time of carefree sexual abandon for the toads ends badly for thousands that get run over by cars as they cross roads to mate.

The toad (sclerophrys pantherina) sports leopard-like camouflage and is found in the Cape Town and Agulhas Plain areas. The toad’s breeding usually only lasts for a single week each year, usually in the first days of August, when they migrate to various ponds around Cape Town, where the male toads attract the female toads with their snore as they fight over them.

The females lay eggs and depart back to their gardens after breeding. The males follow later when no more females arrive at the pools.

The toads cross roads and highways as they move between the gardens and ponds during this season. Thousands of them are killed by motorists, especially at night.

The City of Cape Town has asked the public to keep a lookout for the endangered toads and drive with caution.

“Residents should please keep an eye out for the awareness campaign posters that are being placed along the various roads where most of the migration movement takes place. The posters mark the areas where motorists should be most vigilant to avoid killing these charismatic amphibians, particularly on rainy nights,” said mayoral committee member for spatial planning and the environment Marian Nieuwoudt.

The awareness campaign is co-ordinated through the Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee.

The committee has area co-ordinators who manage volunteer activities within particular geographical areas.

“The volunteers taking part in these activities brave wind, rain and cold, and often speeding motorists as well, to ensure our toads migrate safely to their breeding ponds. I want to thank these volunteers for contributing to the toads’ safe passage,” said Ms Nieuwoudt.

The volunteers collect information on breeding times, numbers of toads and breeding sites. The data is used to determine conservation plans for the following year, to obtain funds, and to update the conservation status of the species.

For more information visit: www.leopardtoad.co.za or call 082 516 3602 to sign up to become a volunteer in your local area.