Close

Western leopard toad

07 Jun 2010 Posted by in Environment, News and Events | Comments

The Western Leopard Toad is endangered

The Western leopard toad (WLT) is an endangered species that lives and breeds in the low-lying regions of Cape Town, with further populations along the coast to the Agulhas Plain. The WLT is larger than any other toad in the area – females reach 140 mm in length. They have characteristic patterns on their body similar to a panther’s spots (a pale chocolate brown rosette outlined in yellow), with two red-to-brown glands on the head behind the eyes; sometimes they have a cream line down their spine.

The WLT (Amietophrynus pantherinus) is also known as the Snoring toad (because of the male’s mating call), the August toad (the breeding season) or Panther toad (because of its rosettes).

Where are WLTs found in Cape Town?

They live in the gardens and wetlands of the southern suburbs in Cape Town. These include Bergvliet, the Cape Flats, Clovelly, Constantia, Diep River, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Grassy Park, Hout Bay, Kirstenhof, Kommetjie, Lakeside, Noordhoek, Observatory, Scarborough, Strandfontein, Tokai and Zeekoevlei.

Why are WLTs endangered?

People have unfortunately built in the areas where they used to live and breed, and wetlands have become polluted. Exotic bird and fish species have preyed on the tadpoles and young toads, keeping numbers low. Also, during the breeding season (July-September), when toads migrate to and from breeding sites, many of them are killed by road traffic.

What is so important about these toads?

Besides being a good insect pest controller, the WLT is an ‘indicator species’ – in other words, the presence of the toads indicates healthy Cape Town biodiversity, well-functioning wetlands and environment-friendly gardens. Cape Town is the only city in the world where they are found.

How can you help protect WLTs?

· Whilst driving, look out for them on the roads during July, August and September, especially at night and when it is raining. Avoid the ‘toads on the roads’ – they look like white stones at night.
· Join your local toad conservation organisation: visit www.leopardtoad.co.za, www.toadnuts.ning.com, or contact your local nature reserve.
· Meet up with local groups to help toads across roads during their breeding season.
· Join the census – every year in areas where these toads occur and breed, a census of WLT populations is undertaken.
· Have a toad-friendly garden – concrete walls are barriers, but toads can move through some
fences; indigenous gardens are best; avoid using insecticides and herbicides; create a ‘toad saver’ netting device to save toads that accidentally fall into the swimming pool (to prevent drowning).

A true story: Teddy the tongue-less toad

An injured Western leopard toad was reported with its “tongue hanging out of its mouth” and found in a terrible condition, most likely he was hit by a car. Conservation staff took ‘Teddy’ to a veterinary doctor who had to amputate his tongue as it was badly damaged and could not be saved. During careful rehabilitation by conservation staff, it was discovered that Teddy had become blind in one eye and partially blind in the other. Because Teddy didn’t have a tongue, he had to be force-fed, which he didn’t enjoy at all. Then one day a cricket was held in front of his mouth and he lunged for it and swallowed it – so Teddy could now feed by himself. Today Teddy is fit and healthy, but the sad news is that he can never be released back into the wild as he needs the care of people to feed him. He is currently housed at the Two Oceans Aquarium in the Sappi River Meander Exhibit and is a true ambassador for his species. Teddy’s story is a reminder that thousands of toads have been killed before him, but also that there are many toads out there that need our help to survive.

For more information

Information leaflet on the Western leopard toad http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/EnvironmentalResourceManagement/projects/BiodMagementConserv/Documents/Western_Leopard_Toad_leaflet_2009_06.pdf [PDF 308 KB]

Poster on the Western leopard toad (for school learners) http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/EnvironmentalResourceManagement/projects/BiodMagementConserv/Documents/Western_Leopard_Toad_poster_2009_06.pdf [PDF 436 KB]

Please visit www.leopardtoad.co.za, join the community network at www.toadnuts.ning.com, or contact your local nature reserve.

You can also send an e-mail to leopard.toad@capetown.gov.za.

POSTED on Behalf of  James George – jamesg@wirelessza.co.za

Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus)

Western Leopard Toad

Leave a Reply