It’s once again that time of year when Western leopard toads in the Cape begin their migration. Every year from late July to September, this endangered species migrates across the Western Cape to breed, putting their lives at risk as they cross busy suburban roads.
Western leopard toads spend the majority of the year in natural vegetation, farms, residential gardens and parks. These toads are found across the Cape, from the Cape Flats, Zeekoevlei, Noordhoek and Fish Hoek to Hout Bay. They begin migrating to breeding sites near water once breeding season begins in late July and throughout August. They typically head towards either Rondevlei or Zeekoevlei to find a mate.
The season is over by November, and they return to their original spots. Thus, August and November are the months where these toads are likely to be most active on the roads.
Male Western leopard toads make a mating call similar to loud snoring. Once they make this call, they move towards the water where they will mate and the females will lay thousands of eggs.
According to Two Oceans Aquarium, hundreds of Western leopard toads are killed by cars during breeding season every year as they make their way to water.
Here’s how you can help these toads complete their breeding mission:
– Volunteer: Every year, volunteers spend their days moving the toads out of danger. If you have time to volunteer, please contact Helen from The Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei on 082 495 1132. If you see a toad, help them safely cross the road in the direction they are headed.
– Drive carefully: Residents are urged to be cautious when driving, especially at night time when it is raining.
– Register any sightings: If you see a toad in the road, make sure to log your sighting on www.leopardtoad.co.za.
Why are they important?
Western leopard toads are endemic as they can only be found in the Western Cape. They can camouflage into its environment to hide from predators.
These toads are known as indicator species, and are incredibly important for ecology as they represent the state of the environment. As they need good, clean water to survive, their disappearance shows that the environment is under threat. They are also useful pest controllers, as they eat insects.
According to Cape Nature, this species is protected by the Nature Conservation Ordinance of the Western Cape Province. Thus, it is illegal to collect or translocate these toads.
Picture: Wikipedia Commons