Toads hopping dry

2017-09-05 06:01

The latest casualties of the ongoing drought may be endangered western leopard toads.

Members of the Toad Nuts, a conservation lobby group, have raised their concerns about the level of water in breeding ponds, saying the breeding season was expected to start a few weeks ago and appears to be ­delayed.

The drought has left some dams shallow, says Toad Nuts founder Suzie J’kul, as well as local wetlands dry. This has seen toads forced to find other breeding spots, including man-made ponds and pools fed by ­boreholes.

The members have been monitoring toad breeding for a decade, and this is the first year they have noticed a change in the breeding pattern, J’kul says.

Water levels are “extremely low” compared to previous years, says J’kul, and in many cases ponds are dry.

“Western leopard toads have had to migrate to more permanent ponds to breed but many other species that can’t migrate will have nowhere to breed or live right now, so will depend on the more permanent ponds for survival,” she says.

Toads have been forced to migrate to deeper or man-made ponds, says J’kul, such as those at Cape Point Vineyards.

“Cape Point Vineyards have three successful breeding ponds on its property. The top pond at Cape Point Vineyards is teaming with toads calling right now, which is wonderful, and the bottom ponds have tadpoles,” she says.

Cape Point Vineyard’s Lizanne van der Spuy says: “Just like every other responsible Capetonian, we are very concerned with the grave water situation and we are doing our utmost to channel stormwater into the dams during this time. We even have cut-off channels that divert water from the vineyards specifically into the bottom dams.”

The Cape Point Vineyards site was previously reserved for open-cast kaolin mining and covered with alien forestry, Van der Spuy explains.

“Since its acquisition, we have spent millions on alien clearing and have a permanent team doing follow-up work after the fires. Cape Point Vineyards created those much-loved breeding ponds at our entrance. We also created three further settling ponds where toads breed,” she says.

V Continued on page 2.

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