We recently wrote about various wild animals that roam the streets of South Africa but we didn’t mention the Western Leopard Toad – amietophrynus pantherinus. Whilst not exactly dangerous or frightening, this little creature is endangered as a result of urban sprawl and Cape Town motorists are asked to help them on their annual love pilgrimage.
This is the time of year when the western leopard toad makes his way from urban gardens to marshy ponds for breeding purposes. They are prolific breeders but for a very short period – mainly for a week in August. In order to reach the ponds they have to cross roads and they get run over very easily. Drivers speed and don’t see them, especially if it is dark and wet. The toad is not large; in fact some of them are as small as a coin – not easy to spot in the rain.
So, Capetonians are warned to reduce speed and look out for them. It’s an unofficial local rule that one should stop and assist them to reach the other side of the road. The general idea is to help them along in the direction they are facing. There are volunteers in specific areas who don raincoats and flashlights as soon as it starts to rain and who give of their time, in the dark, wet, cold, looking out for the toads and ensuring that they are not harmed. Woe betides the driver who speeds or is seen to turn a toad into roadkill.
Temporary warning signs are placed at the roadside in the relevant areas, mainly the Cape Flats, the southern suburbs and the ‘deep south’ – the more southern areas going towards Cape Point. This annual event even warrants a special communication from the City of Cape Town.
If you’re lucky enough to find western leopard toads on your property click here for advice.
Did you know?
- The Western leopard toad uses camouflage to blend into its environment and hide from predators.
- The Western Cape is the only place in the world where you will find the western leopard toads.
- The ‘croak’ made by the male western leopard toad when he’s ready to mate sounds like snoring. They generally call in choruses of up to 50 toads!
- The western leopard toad spends most of its time away from water.
- They can live for up to 13 years.