South African toad killed by car

This video from the USA says about itself:

Listen to American Toads, Chorus Frogs and Leopard Frogs as the crescent phase moon sets in the western prairie sky.

From the Cape Argus in South Africa:

South Africa: Leopard Toad’s Trek Ends in Death on the Road

9 September 2008
Posted to the web 10 September 2008

Cape Town

So near and yet so far. After an epic journey of 3,5km that involved crossing some of Cape Town’s busiest highways, Big Mamma made it to within 200m of her vital breeding destination – only to be flattened by a vehicle at the last moment.

Big Mamma was an endangered Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus) which had been living in the conservation area in the centre of Gold Circle’s Kenilworth racecourse.

She was originally found in a private garden in nearby lower Wynberg, but was transferred to the reserve earlier in 2008 because she would be safer there.

Maya Beukes, reserve manager at Kenilworth, was delighted, because although there were records of this species in the area, very few had been seen in recent years and the location of their breeding sites were unknown.

By fitting Big Mama with a small tracking device and monitoring her movements more closely, conservation staff hoped to find out more about the toad population and so ensure their long-term survival in the Kenilworth area.

The toad was kept in captivity for about three months while tracking devices were imported from Britain. During this time, she began to fill with eggs.

Last month, the device was fitted on her back and she was released in the centre of the racecourse conservation area.

For several nights she was released and recaptured and then released again to determine whether her movements were calculated, habitual or random, said Beukes.

Each time Big Mamma was released, she headed in the same direction, “which means that she managed to calculate exactly where she had to go”.

And she was apparently determined to reach her destination, travelling between 500m and a kilometre each night – at between one and two metres a minute – through very rough, uneven and overgrown fynbos and kikuyu terrain.

“She crawled, climbed and conquered obstructions that had been previously believed to be impermeable to adult toads,” said Beukes.

After her final release, Big Mama made her way across the racecourse, over both sets of three lanes of the M5 highway, across the degraded Youngsfield military base and then across busy Ottery Road.

“She was making her way down towards the Royal Cape Golf Club, where we’d already identified two breeding sites, when we lost her signal,” said Beukes.

“We searched desperately for her for three days before we found her on the third night.

“Unfortunately, Big Mamma didn’t make it to her breeding site to find a mate and release her eggs.

“She was found flattened by a car in the middle of a small side road bordering the golf club, only about 200m from her probable breeding site.

“Her story highlights the plight of the Western Leopard Toad and the incredible danger that this species faces,” said Beukes.

Pools for amphibians: here.

1 thought on “South African toad killed by car

  1. South Africa: Toad-Lovers to the Rescue As Builders Move in

    Liam Moses

    Cape Argus, 1 February 2010

    A new development in Bergvliet has sent conservationists scrambling to save an endangered species of toad.

    Members of the Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee were out in full force to move the toads and other small fauna away from the development site.

    Mark Day, committee project co-coordinator for awareness, volunteers and census operations, said he wanted people to understand the significance of the animals that could be living on their property.

    “There’s a lot of biodiversity in the city that people don’t consider worthy or important, and we are just trying to change the mindset of people,” Day said.

    “People need to understand that there are important small fauna in their gardens in the suburbs.”

    The development was due to start today but has been briefly delayed.

    The delay, though, is because of city planning requirements rather than the toads.

    However, the committee’s volunteers said they would continue to move the toads to neighbouring wetlands where they would have a greater chance of survival.

    The endangered toads are limited to a small breeding area in Cape Town, and housing developments are causing their habitat to shrink even further.

    “The toads have an extremely small distribution, limiting them to the southern and eastern areas of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula,” Day said.

    “The Cape Town distribution extends from Observatory in the north to Glencairn in the south, east on to the Cape Flats in Philippi and west in Hout Bay.

    “And then there are tiny populations in the Overstrand and Gansbaai.”

    Day added that there were only 52 breeding sites for the toads in Cape Town.


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