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Community learns about endangered leopard toad

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Around 40 people gathered at the Silvermine Wetland area to learn about the endangered Western leopard toad. PHOTO: supplied
Around 40 people gathered at the Silvermine Wetland area to learn about the endangered Western leopard toad. PHOTO: supplied

In an interactive gathering, young and old from Plumstead, Retreat and Noordhoek learned about the endangered Western leopard toad and how to ensure its survival.

The Friends of Silvermine Nature area (Fosna) hosted 40 people at the lower Silvermine wetland area on Saturday 9 July.

Alison and Richard Faraday of ToadNUTS shared 15 years of their knowledge about Western leopard toad behaviour and experiences in community-based conservation.

“The Western leopard toads migrate to local ponds to breed every winter.

“They congregate to fertilise and lay their eggs. They trust that at least some of the eggs will not be eaten by freshwater fish and will make it to maturity,” said Alison.

“But it’s not just hungry fish that pose a threat to leopard toads. The quality of the water is a key determinant of the success of the breeding event,” she added.

A highlight of the morning included netting water creatures at the stepping stone pond. “The abundance and diversity of different water creatures are good indicators of the water quality and habitat health of the wetlands,” said Alison.

Youngsters had fun netting small but valuable samples of fish, tadpoles, water spiders, snails, and mayfly as well as damselfly larvae.

“Using the miniSASS (South African Scoring System) test, the water is checked for the diversity of fresh-water critters – the greater the variety, the better the water is, and therefore the more toad eggs will survive.”

The results of the miniSASS test was verified by visiting fresh water specialist Dr Casey Broom as being between “poor” and “fair” based on the samples found.

“However only a small area was sampled, suggesting that a higher score may have been achieved with a more comprehensive survey.”

Every year, ToadNUTs host pond educational events in which parents and children learn about the Western leopard toad and have an opportunity to check the water quality at the pond.

Erica Williams from Retreat who joined the gathering said: “What a fantastic day. We learnt so much. The girls loved the event and day. Really empowering our youth, taking the information back into our communities”.

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