Clearing paused to protect leopard toads

The western leopard toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) is listed as endangered.

Municipal staff have started clearing and cutting overgrown vegetation again following the annual pausing of this work to protect endangered western leopard toads.

Ward councillor Penny East says she gets many complaints from residents about canals and rivers looking unkempt, but this is because of an agreement between the City and conservation groups to protect the toads.

She told the sub-council 20 meeting on Wednesday March 17 that it was decided 12 years ago not to disturb toad breeding sites from November to March.

KirMiTS will need volunteers from July to September to help toads across the road safely at night, usually during rush hour, in the direction they are heading.

Susan Wishart of Muizenberg, who is on the Western Leopard Toad (WLT) Conservation Committee, said best practice and the suggested restrictions on mowing and removal of alien and invasive plant species along the river banks include:

· Avoid mowing or removal of riverine vegetation within 500m of a WLT breeding site between Thursday July 1 and Thursday September 30 to allow for breeding migrations.

· Avoid mowing or removal of riverine vegetation within 500m of a WLT breeding site between Monday November 1 and Friday December 31 to allow for toadlet emergence.

Ms Wishart said these recommendations are subject to exact dates and site observations informed by the WLT Conservation Committee or relevant environmental and conservation officials.

Ms East said the clearing of alien species fell under the City’s department of environmental affairs while parks and public open spaces fell under the City Parks department.

Ms Wishart co-ordinates the KirMiTS (Kirstenhof to Muizenberg Toad Savers), which also includes Norfolk Park, Lakeside, Muizenberg East and Marina da Gama.

She said KirMiTS will need volunteers from July to September to help toads across the road safely at night, usually during rush hour, in the direction they are heading.

Around August, the toads migrate to water bodies to breed.

· The western leopard toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

Around August, the toads – with their distinctive markings – migrate to water bodies to breed. Once in the water, the males call and fight to hop onto a female who then hops to ponds to lay eggs.

Male toads are distinguished by the colour of the throat which is dark and granular, compared to the creamier throat of the females.