Save water to save toads

Ellen Fedele, Plumstead

As a Western leopard toad volunteer for some years standing, I was distressed to learn about the low water level at Die Oog in Bergvliet, which is an area of critical importance to the toads for breeding.

A plea to the council to request that residents in the adjacent areas minimise their borehole water usage yielded this reply: “In terms of the Leopard Toad, not much can be done and it is likely that they might not breed for a year of two in certain areas where there is little or no water. This unfortunately is part of a natural process which is made worse by borehole water use. Hopefully this will right itself once we have good rains.”

The possibility of the critically endangered amphibians not breeding for a year or two, as stated, is disastrous to the species as a whole.

It is most certainly not a natural process – climate change, excessive building, alien vegetation, busy roads, polluted and drying wetlands are the causes of most of nature’s misery. All the above, and more, are due to human pressure. In this case, over-use of boreholes plays a significant role – and one which can be monitored and controlled by the council.

Simply because people have well-points or boreholes installed at their homes or places of work does not give them license to abuse the privilege to the detriment of their neighbours, the surrounding landscape and our ecosystems. At least we have the toads to warn us of the impending disaster. What about all the other wetland species: the birds, the fish, otters, terrapins, insects and water-plants? Do they too not deserve some consideration in this drought?

Our toads are much-loved by all the volunteers in the area, as well as residents and even some members of BKM who move them to safety while on their patrols during breeding season.

People who have the privilege of living in the vicinity of our wetlands need to help to keep them going and not simply think of their own gardens. People need to be informed and urged to save water; those unwilling to join in the sacrifice in this time of need, should be pursued and made to see reason. Our wet-lands and toads need us.

The council has the clout to act upon this impending calamity and I respectfully request that they do so.