People's Post

Roads pose a threat to wildlife

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These reflective works are part of art installation, road signs – a memorial for Cape Town caracals that have been hit by cars. They can be seen on some of Cape Town’s busiest roads, including Ou Kaapse Weg. PHOTO: Urban Caracal Project
These reflective works are part of art installation, road signs – a memorial for Cape Town caracals that have been hit by cars. They can be seen on some of Cape Town’s busiest roads, including Ou Kaapse Weg. PHOTO: Urban Caracal Project

The Cape region boasts some of the most abundant wildlife in the country, with residents often sighting baboons, caracals, the endangered Western Leopard Toad and many more animal species near their home or commonly on hiking trails.

With these animals living so close to urban areas, the number of wildlife being killed when crossing roads is very high.

Dr Laurel Serieys, a wildlife biologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cape Town (UCT), established the Urban Caracal Project in 2014.

The aims of the project are to discover how urbanisation affects the movements, habits and behaviour of the animals; explore the threats to the species, and find baseline information on how many of the species are found in the Cape Peninsula.

She divulged to the public last week that “the Cape Peninsula vehicle collisions are the main cause of death for caracals, at 70% of recorded mortalities”.

The statistics are similar for the Western Leopard Toad.

In a previous interview with Suzie J’kul, the founder of the ToadNuts initiative said rescuing toads on roads is a big part of saving the endangered animal.

J’kul said: “ToadNuts is an organisation where we save the Western Leopard Toads, and there are different facets to that. One is through information and letting people know about them. We also do road patrol. Last night (Tuesday 13 August 2019), I picked about 30 toads in three hours.”

Rapid urbanisation has impacted the roaming space of these animals and have exposed them to the threats of crossing roads and becoming roadkill, as well as consuming pesticides.

“The majority of these mortalities are young males, most likely crossing roads while trying to find territories of their own. But all caracals around Cape Town, even in reserves like Cape Point, must cross roads to survive: they need to find prey, patrol their home ranges and find mates,” Serieys notes.

What can the public do to help the species survive?

Serieys says drive carefully.

“Caracals are especially active during dawn and dusk and at night so these are times to be especially vigilant.”

  • Send an SMS or WhatsApp to the Urban Caracal Project on 079 837 8814 to report roadkill.

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