Every year, usually in August, the Western Leopard Toad gets into serious breeding mode and thousands of toads head for nearby ponds to do some brief but enthusiastic courting.
Unfortunately, randy single-minded toads and fast-driven cars do not mix, and because we’ve built roads and highways crisscrossing the routes to their breeding ponds, far too many of these creatures end up pancaked on the roads.
So where are you likely to encounter these crossings?
The Western Leopard Toad is generally restricted to the coastal lowlands of the southwestern Cape, with a fragmented distribution that extends from the Cape Peninsula southeastwards to the Agulhas Plain, spanning a distance of 140 km. Its distribution also does not extend further inland than about 10 km from the coast and is associated with rivers and large wetland areas.
Noordhoek, in particular, is a hot-spot – they even have Leopard Toad crossing signs to warn motorists.
Don’t be a toad-killer! There are two ways in which you can help. The first, naturally, is to be super-aware when driving (particularly at night), and look out for toads crossing the road (then avoid squishing them).
The second way is to volunteer your time and help the Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee to man the roads, rescuing toads, controlling traffic and generally preventing complete mayhem – the whole escapade only lasts a few days a year, but in that time the fate of the next generation of toads hangs in the balance.
If you would like to volunteer and be part of the action please call the Western Leopard Toad hotline number (082 516 3602) and join the ranks of your local toad volunteer group.
For more information on Western Leopard Toads visit www.leopardtoad.co.za.