Journal archives for June 2018

June 30, 2018



The Western Leopard Toad Sclerophrys pantherina lives largely in suburban gardens and thus close to domestic animals.  Some breeds of dogs and cats, especially those bred for vermin control, may take excessive interest in toads.
The Western Leopard Toad, like most other toads, has a toxin gland (called the parotid gland) just behind the ears. The toad secretes bufotoxins when it feels that its life is threatened, typically when its body is in the grip of a predatorӳ jaws or if the body cavity has been perforated.
This toxin is not of much harm if consumed in small amounts. When copious amounts are consumed, it can however be harmful to the animal and in all cases must be treated. Some individual pets may be hypersensitive to these toxins, just as some humans have allergies to bee stings.

The majority of breeds of dogs and cats avoid toads, as toad skin is exceedingly unpleasant to the taste.  Most animals that once mouth, lick or even smell a toad, will never touch another again.

Symptoms of poisoning

Symptoms of poisoning are typical of ingesting a poisonous. The first sign is foaming and frothing at the mouth, which is a reaction of the saliva.  Most pets attempt to gag or wipe away the foam.  In most cases, this is as bad as it gets, and treatment is merely to wash out the pets mouth.  Where heavy doses are consumed your pet will experience a rapid increase in heartbeats, nausea and a reduced consciousness. In very selected cases, when the animal is hypersensitive to the toxin and consumes large amounts of it, there is a chance that without treatment, the animal can die. Whenever your pet foams at the mouth take it seriously! Wash the dog's mouth out thoroughly with water and take it to a vet immediately.  Unless you have seen a toad nearby, beware of other causes of foaming such as eating rat poison or drinking poisonous substances.

A survey among vets regarding Western Leopard Toads and Pets

The Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee conducted a survey of 18 veterinary clinics in Cape Town during 2009.
Doctors were asked ten questions specifically relating to dogs.  The results were:

1) How many dogs are brought into your practice annually suffering from WLT poisoning?

   Answer: Half  (50%) had no confirmed cases, a third (33.3%) have had less than 5 cases.  None had more than 5 cases, and 3 did not answer the question.

2) How many of these dogs died?

   Answer: Almost 90% (88.9%) of vets did not know of deaths caused by Western Leopard Toad.  Only a single vet had experience of a Jack Russell that had been brought in without any initial treatment (washing out the mouth) by the owner and was unable to be revived. One vet had heard of a death, but not at his clinic.

3) What breeds of dog are most susceptible?

    Answer: Terrier breeds like Jack Russellӳ and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.  German Shepherds were mentioned, but no cases have been documented.

4) Are there any "problem areas" or times when poisoning is more prevalent?

    Answer: About half (44.4%) suggested at night time, when toads are active.  About half (44.4%) noted winter when the toads were migrating and one tenth  (11%) suggested during spring, during the time that toadlets emerge from the breeding pools.

5) How do you treat the dogs?

    Answer: Cases are treated symptomatically using anti-nausea medication.  Activated charcoal is suggested as well as IV fluid drips.  Lignocaine, diuretics and valium were other substances used in treatment.  This is all standard treatment for poisonous foods and drinks.

6) What do you advise pet owners in terms of prevention and first aid?

    Answer: You must wash out the mouth with water.  Keep dogs indoors during risky periods.  Other suggestions include:  check water bowls, prevent dogs from playing with toads, and train dogs not to attack toads.

7) Compared to other threats to pets such as vehicles, how would you quantify the threat of WLT to pets?

    Answer: The incidence is very low: less than 1% of cases.

8) Do people ever bring to your clinic injured toads for treatment?

    Answer: Almost a third of vets (27.7%) said yes.

9) if yes, what do you do?

    Answer: The five vets indicated that they use antiseptic liquid to clean the wound, but if it is a serious injury like a crushed head or the body cavity is ruptured or the spine is snapped, as there are no facilities to treat this.

What you should do to prevent a serious pet/toad encounter

Place a stone or two in the pets water bowl to allow the toad to get out easily and not get stuck in it. Alternatively keep the water bowl inside, preventing the toad from reaching it.

If you have a terrier breed, or your pet has a history of attacking toads, consider keeping it inside during toad breeding season (July-September) and toadlet emergence (November-January).

Find out if you have leopard toads in your garden and be conscious of their behaviour and where they tend to move or like to be. This way you can keep your pets away from the toads.

Know your pet. If you see that your pet does not worry toads, it is unlikely that it will begin. Most likely it has already learned to leave toads alone. If you know that your pet does not leave toads alone, then you can train it to ignore the toads and leave them alone.

Be conscious of your pets movement if it roams, because as the vets indicated, vehicles and other humans pose a far greater danger to pets.

If you have any further information of a personal experience with your pet/s and a toad, we would like to know. Please Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602.

Information compiled by Marc Day, May 2009

Posted on June 30, 2018 17:42 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment



Scientific name:Sclerophyrys pantherina (A. Smith, 1828) (previouslyAmietophrynus pantherinus, Bufo pantherinus)

Other common names:
Snoring Toad, Leopard Toad, Panther Toad, August Frog, Westelike Luiperdskurwepadda


Click these links to jump to sections in this article
Life History
Conservation Status
Legal Status


The Western Leopard Toad can reach an impressive size of about 140 mm in body length. Like all toads, it has a rough skin and two large parotoid glands on either side of the head and neck region behind the eyes. It has a beautiful pattern of chocolate to reddish-brown patches with a bright yellow or black edging, on a pink or grey background (although duller individuals are also found). There is usually a yellow stripe running the length of the back between the patches. The underside is granular and cream-coloured, with males having a darkish throat.

Other toad species that occupy its habitat in places, generally have a duller brown to greyish upper surface colouring, covered in darker blotches and smaller markings. These species are: the Raucous Toad (Sclerophrys rangeri); the Sand Toad (Vandijkophrynus angusticeps); and the Guttural Toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis), an introduced species in the Constantia area of the Cape Peninsula. Of these, the Raucous Toad is the most similar, but besides colour and pattern differences, it usually has only one elongated patch between the eyes, instead of the usual two of the Western Leopard Toad. It also does not occur on the Cape Peninsula and Cape Flats, which is the best known distribution area of the Western Leopard Toad, but occurs throughout the remainder of the Western Leopard Toad's distribution area.

The advertisement call is a deep pulsed snore that continues for about a second and is repeated every three to four seconds. It can also be described as sounding like a tractor or motorcycle engine, or a very loud "purr". The call is quite different to that of any other frog species in its distribution area, including its nearest relatives. For example, the Raucous Toad makes loud, duck-like quacks, repeated incessantly, and the Guttural Toad has a constantly repeated vibrant snore.


The Western Leopard Toad is generally restricted to the coastal lowlands of the southwestern Cape, with a fragmented distribution that extends from the Cape Peninsula southeastwards to the Agulhas Plain, spanning a distance of 140 km. Its distribution also does not extend further inland than about 10 km from the coast and is associated with rivers and large wetland areas.

The earliest distribution records were obtained from the Cape Peninsula and adjoining western part of the Cape Flats (dating back to the 1820s). This area contains the largest known populations of toads and has produced the most distribution records. These include the following localities (alphabetically) in a largely urban environment:
Bergvliet, Cape of Good Hope area (KLaasjagersberg, of Table Mountain National Park), Clovelly, Constantia,
Diep River, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Kirstenhof, Kommetjie, Lakeside,
Noordhoek, Observatory, Ottery, Philippi, Rondevlei, Scarborough, Southfield, Sun Valley, Strandfontein,
Tokai, Valkenberg, Zeekoevlei, and some neighbouring areas.

In the coastal region to the southeast, it has been recorded from the Pringle Bay, Bettys Bay, Kleinmond, Hermanus, Stanford, Gansbaai, Uilenkraalsmond and Pearly Beach areas. Further surveys are needed to determine the full eastern extent of its distribution, in the Agulhas Plain to Mossel Bay area.


The Western Leopard Toad is generally associated with sandy coastal lowlands but, in places, also inhabits valleys, mountain slopes and hills adjoining the lowlands. Like other toads, it is wide-ranging and spends most of its time away from water, up to several kilometres from the nearest water body. However, it is always found in the general vicinity of rivers and wetland habitats such as coastal lakes, vleis and pans, in which breeding takes place.

This species is endemic (confined) to the Fynbos Biome, occurring in pristine Fynbos and Strandveld habitats. However, it has also become adapted to living in modified habitats such as farmlands, suburban parks and gardens, and breeding in artificial water bodies. Breeding has even been recorded in somewhat polluted and eutrophic water bodies.

It generally breeds in permanent water bodies, but also in seasonal wetlands that retain surface water well into summer. These can vary from coastal lakes, vleis, pans and sluggish, meandering rivers, that have stretches of relatively deep, still water, to man-made dams and garden ponds. Typical breeding sites have standing, open water, more than 50 cm deep, with scattered patches of aquatic plants and beds of emergent vegetation such as bulrushes (Typha capensis).

Life history

The Western Leopard Toad is an "explosive breeder". This means that breeding is restricted to short, sporadic bursts of activity, lasting for up to a week at a time, and is not continuous throughout the breeding season. Breeding usually takes place during August, but has also been recorded in late July and in September; and some breeding calls have even been heard in early October. The start of breeding seems to depend largely on rainfall and temperature, and has been found to occur during warmer spells following periods of rain, but is poorly understood.

The first indication that breeding is about to start, is when large numbers of adult toads appear after dark, particularly on rainy nights, to converge on selected breeding sites, hence the old popular name: "the August Frog". Some toads may need to move a few kilometres to reach their breeding sites. The same sites tend to be used each breeding season.

The advertisement calls of the males are heard at the breeding sites. They tend to call in bouts and in choruses of up to about 50 individuals, but as many as an estimated 200 males have been heard chorusing at a large breeding site. The calling is generally at night, but during peak breeding periods, can continue throughout the day, especially if very large numbers of males are present at the breeding site. They call from stands of emergent vegetation (e.g. bulrushes), but at night, they also call from areas of open water. The males have a habit of calling from a floating position with limbs outstretched.

Amplexing (mating) pairs tend to use areas of open water for spawning. The female deposits thousands of eggs in gelatinous strings. One pair reportedly produced 24 476 eggs. Thereafter, metamorphosis generally takes more than 10 weeks, but is influenced by factors such as food availability for the tadpoles, and the type, temperature and volume of the water body. The relatively small, dark, benthic (bottom dwelling) tadpoles develop into tiny 11 mm long toadlets that leave the water in October-December in their thousands. Relatively few of the offspring develop into adults, which apparently takes about 1-3 years for males and 2-6 years for females. Most fall victim to a variety of predators (including their own kind) and other hazards.

Conservation status

The Western Leopard Toad is classified according to the IUCN Red List as an Endangered species. This is based on: its restricted distribution and habitat, habitat that is severely fragmented; and a continuing decline in the extent of distribution, area and quality of habitat, and the number of locations/populations and mature individuals. In particular, although the largest recorded populations occur in a largely urban environment on the Cape Peninsula and Cape Flats, they are increasingly being threatened by urbanization; and there have been no recent records of this toad from the middle part of its distribution range, extending from Pringle Bay to Hermanus.   

Furthermore, although this toad occurs in some protected nature areas, most of the known breeding and foraging habitat is situated outside of these areas. Protected areas that have suitable breeding habitat include: Zandvlei Nature Reserve (including the adjoining Westlake Wetland Conservation area), Rondevlei and Zeekoevlei nature reserves, and Table Mountain National Park (e.g. Cape of Good Hope area).

In the urban environment of the City of Cape Town, the Western Leopard Toad breeds in certain public open space and green-belt areas, as well as golf courses, and is often encountered in surrounding gardens. These are important foraging areas and sanctuaries, but with increasing development, road traffic and associated threats, the long-term survival of local populations is potentially threatened.

The overall conservation status of the Western Leopard Toad would improve if it is found to occur in the extensive coastal lowlands that extend from the Agulhas Plain to Mossel Bay area. This is a distinct possibility as there have been unconfirmed sightings of this species in this largely undeveloped region that includes nature reserves, but this might also be a case of toads transported by holidayers in vehicles well outside their natural range.

Legal Status

The Western Leopard Toad is a protected wild animal in terms of the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 19 of 1974. This means that no person may harm, capture, possess, or transport this species, or keep it in captivity, without a permit from CapeNature, the provincial nature conservation authority.

No commercial trade is allowed in this species, and any person conducting research on this species requires a permit from CapeNature.


The Western Leopard Toad is threatened throughout most of its range by general development and habitat degradation. While breeding generally takes place in larger, more secure water bodies, urban development poses an obvious threat around these water bodies by causing habitat fragmentation and restricting the foraging area and movement of toads. This reduces population size, and can restrict or completely interrupt gene flow between populations.

In an urban environment, toads are forced to negotiate roads and barriers, such as walls, embankments and canals, while foraging and migrating to and from breeding sites. Expanding urban development and increased road traffic results in the death of hundreds of toads each year, especially during the breeding season. Artificial water bodies with vertical sides, such as swimming pools, canalized rivers and stormwater drains, represent additional deathtraps that pose a threat to local populations.

Specific threats at some breeding sites include: pollutants; introduced predatory fish (e.g. barbell); invasive floating plants that choke the water surface and stagnate the water (e.g. Water Hyacinth); and captive populations of alien ducks that consume toad eggs and tadpoles, and foul the water.

Information compiled by Atherton de Villiers, May 2009

Posted on June 30, 2018 13:39 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Guidelines for Monitoring and Rescueing Toads


Your safety is paramount at all times. You are of no use to toads about to be run over by cars if you have been run over by a car. Be very careful when stopping or parking your car. Take care when opening your car door and leaving your car. In the road, remember that conditions are dangerous and cars may not easily be able to stop. Ensure that you are visible at all times and that your actions can be predicted by motorists. It helps to work in groups.

Do a few practice runs during good weather, even during the day. These are not useless as you will find some toads feeding (very useful data: practice photographing them, and put them back where you found them) and squashed toads will alert you to areas that need attention. Remember to log your hours and fill in a summary form, even if you saw nothing: no toads is not "no data" and helps to define the breeding season.

Road work

Your primary purpose as a volunteer is to save toads that might be killed by motorists. This is the most important task. Recording data is secondary, but very important for planning for next year, for studying long-term trends in population numbers and for future funding.

There are several levels of data. At the coursest level we need to know how many toads were killed. Better still if we also know how many survived. And, of course, how many you rescued.

Not all toads need rescuing. For instance, those already across the road, or those on the safe side of the road. There is no need to pretend to rescue them. But if things are quiet, or there are enough volunteers, we can get useful information out of them.

The next level of data is to sex the toads: male or female?

MALES have dark throats (calling stretches the throat, and black pigments help protect the skin when it inflates; this may not be so marked on young males), robust fore limbs with callosities (these grip onto the females allowing males to ride piggyback), and give a "release" call if gripped behind the front legs (a "let-go-of-me-mate:_I'm_also_male" call, to tell other males not to waste their time). Useful to know, but of no use in sexing, is that on average males are slightly smaller than females.

FEMALES have pale throats (they dont call), more elegant arms, and do not usually give a release call. They tend to be far heftier than the males, especially around the waist (they are packed full of eggs). Of course, after they have laid their eggs they are skinny and haggard looking. They tend to squirm and not want to be grabbed.

Please also record any JUVENILES (less than 70mm long) you find. These do not normally take part in breeding movements, but may be feeding. They are hard to sex. You will not find any TOADLETS (less than 20mm long) at this time of the year (they will only emerge in summer, and by spring are double to triple that size). Any adult (larger than 70mm) that you cannot sex you can label as ADULT: SEX UNKNOWN. Please err on the side of caution: remember that next year we may find that Johny was Julie! So dont guess the sex if it is not obvious - use this category.

You will encounter amplectic toads. These are easy to sex: the female is below (usually bigger), and the male above. Please do not separate them: photograph the male and record them as an AMPLECTIC Pair. (Amplexis is the grasping of the female by the male: he hangs on with his forelegs which are especially adapted to allow him to hold tight).

An ever higher level of data is to measure the toads. This can be done by weighing them (with spring balances {in g please}), measuring them (snout tip to bum {in mm} - we dont usually measure other features like leg length or snout width: that is for the specialists doing special projects), and photographing them (with a digital camera or cell phone). If you photograph the toad with a ruler or on gridded paper (10mm X 10mm) then you dont have to measure them. This is relatively advanced monitoring, but suprisingly, most volunteers are very keen to photograph their toads. And it yields lots of very useful data. If you want to know more you can find it here on the Upload your Toad Website

How is it done

The easiest way to rescue toads is to ride along a route in your car. If you are using the smartphone app, switch it on and switch on your gps. Toads in the road (and veld) do one of two things: they hunker down and freeze (an ideal strategy for avoiding a predator, not so good for avoiding cars) or else - especially males - they hop to the car (hoping that it is a nice big female to jump on - males are like that). Unless you see the toad as it hunkers down you are likely to miss it if it is in the gutter or verge: in the road they are easier to see, but can still be missed - look carefully where you are driving: you are supposed to be rescuing them not pancaking them. Alert toads are very easy to see as their white undersides shine in the car light. Check your safety, get out the car and rescue the toad.

To lift the toad, grab it firmly behind the front legs with your thumb and forefinger. If it is male it usually gives the release call and relaxes; a female usually squirms. Turn your wrist over and look for the black throat, tubercles on the front legs, and abdomen full of eggs: you will now know its sex. Put it in your ice-cream tub (which you have lined with a gridded laminated paper or with a ruler in it).

Some people prefer to work in the open, others get into the car (useful if it is raining hard). But get out of the road before you do anyting else! From the safety of the car/road verge, record the time, state and sex of the toad. Take your photograph (see Upload your Toad Website for how to make a useful photograph) with your iNat cellphone app, or if on an ordinary camera, please record the photograph number. And release the toad on the road verge (taking great care to check that it is safe to leave your car).

Do not move the toad any further. Do not take it to the nearest breeding pond. Do not take it anywhere. It knows where it wants to go and it is not up to you to interfere. If the toad tries to cross the road again, then take it (Left, Right and Left again, Remember!) to the opposite verge and leave it there.

Now that the toad is rescued and you are safe, finish recording the information needed. This is the details of the location. If you have a GPS then record this now. If you dont have a GPS then the street name and number of the nearest house are perfect. If their are no houses, then use odometer readings down the road. If you are using the cellphone app, this will all be recorded automatically for you.

If the toad is dead or seriously injured, then scrape it off the road (a paint scraper or spatula is very handy), move yourself to safety (look what happened to the toad!), and record as much as you can. Sex (obviously it wont call, but look for the dark throat and if the abdomen has popped, eggs or sperm) and photograph it, and pop it in a plastic ziplock bag. Using a permanent cocki marker, give it the number on your data form. I like to write the sex and "address" on it as well, as things get rather hectic, and I dont like it when I accidentally write the wrong number and then dont know who was Arther or Martha.

If it is injured assume that it will live. Put it on a safe place in the road verge. If it is still there the next day, then make a note, or if it is dead, collect it as a specimen: pop it into the ziplock bag and label the bag appropriately.

You have now rescued your toad (if not for breeding, for laboratory analysis) and you should have the following information:
State (live/dead/injured)
Sex (male, female (eggs, empty), amplectic pair, unknown, juvenile)

And that is all that is required. Go and rescue another toad. Be aware that things can get hectic: there may be lots of toads. Phone for help if it is needed.

When you have finished your patrol, summarize your data. Use this form downloadable here. Forward the details to your area coordinator. Dowload your photographs onto your computer, and at the end of the season, burn them onto two CDs and give one to your area coordinator (the other is a backup in case the other gets lost). If you are using your cell phone app, all the information will be recorded. If you had opted not to download the data live, to speed up the field work and to save costs, when you get to your wifi, synchronize your app to automatically download all your data to iNaturalist.


This is best done at quieter periods. Simply go to any pond and look and listen for toads and tadpoles. You will need at least five minutes. Stand or sit quietly and wait for the toads to come out of hiding (you will have scared them when you approached the pond, no matter how quietly you came, although some males wont care as they have females on their minds) and record what you see and hear.

There are several things you can record. The number of males visible. Watch them inflate the throat sacs as they call. Count them. Listen to the males calling: count them (not so easy, you will need some practicing!) Amplectic Pairs may be visible: count them.

Look also for egg strings. Count them. Even after the breeding orgy is over, you can visit the ponds and record when then eggs hatch to tadpoles. Count them. And if you are really keen you can return in November/December and record when the tadpoles become toadlets. Count them.

It is important to standardize your counting. There is no point spending 45 minutes today counting and 5 minutes tomorrow. I reocommend that you allow the animals to settle after your approach for 3-5 minutes, and then count for 5-10 minutes. If you have lots of ponds to visit, you cannot afford much longer anyway.

During the hectic nights of rescuing toads, there is not much time to visit the ponds. But if you are not too tired, go during the day: the males are usually active, calling and jockying for positions. You can get very useful data then. If you know of any possible ponds, then visit these during the day: there are probably many more breeding sites that we dont know about as of yet. Knowing where they are means that they can be patrolled next year.

Not many people know that the toadlets also leave the pools in a mass migration. They also get killed on the roads in large numbers. But they are so small that only a very few dedicated teams go and rescue them. Fortunately, summer days are long, and most motorists are off the road by evening on wet days when the toads depart. Contact your coordinator if you are interested. You will need to be available on rainy days from November to New Year.

Information first compiled by Tony Rebelo in 2007, and updated annually.

Posted on June 30, 2018 12:58 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

RESEARCH (as at 2009)

Conservation decisions for the Western Leopard Toad, like other animals and plants, need to be based on precise data obtained from objective research.

Research on most amphibians in South Africa has not concentrated on conservation issues and we often important conservation decisions must be based on very little data. For the Western Leopard Toad a provisional research agenda has been designed up to aid with immediate conservation planning needs. Some of the projects listed below are underway, and others have yet to start. As projects are completed we will add a link to a page with results and decisions. If you are interested in participating in Western Leopard Toad research, please contact the hotline.

Estimating the size of a Western Leopard Toad population

Every year we see Western Leopard Toads migrating to their breeding sites, and we see dead animals squashed on the roads. How many animals make it to breed every year? Do all animals go to breed every year? What proportion of the breeding population are killed?

Knowing how many animals make up a breeding population of Western Leopard Toads is of fundamental importance to almost every conservation decision. There is a tried and tested technique called “capture-mark-recapture” through which we can model population size. Happily, we don’t have to mark Western Leopard Toads as they – like Leopards - have their own individual markings on their backs – all we need is a clear photograph of the back, and some sophisticated computer ID recognition software, and we can estimate how many toads are in each population.

But we need YOUR HELP! We cannot photograph every toad that is out there as they all breed around the same time. To help you need a camera (your cell phone camera is suitable), a ruler or matchbox to allow us to measure the toad on the photograph, and you need to know where you area. We need you to photograph all the toads that you see and upload the images onto our website: UPLOAD YOUR TOAD

If we get enough pictures from ponds in your area, we can calculate how many adults live there, and even tell you where your toad was last seen!

Estimating current Area of Occurrence

Knowing how big an area animals occur in is crucial to estimating population sizes, numbers of populations and extent of any threats. This if often not as easy as it seems. Are we aware of the full extent of the distribution of the Western Leopard Toad?

In 2004, the Atlas and Red Data Book of the Frogs of South Africa (Minter et al., 2004) revised the IUCN red-listing of all the known frog species in the country. The Western Leopard Toad was recognised as being Endangered due to its small distribution and ongoing decline in the quality of habitat in the Western Cape. The atlas recorded the toad in 6 quarter degree squares (QDS, each equivalent to 25 km X 26 km2 around 650 km2), while it had previously been known from 7.

Very few breeding sites are known East of False Bay, and breeding activity in Betty's Bay and Kleinmond has not been recorded for over 20 years. Research is underway to discover exactly how many breeding sites occur on the Aghulus plain. If you live in this area and have Western Leopard Toads breeding on your property, please contact the webmaster or hotline.

This work is being sponsored by SANBI Threatened Species Programme.

Fine scale genetics of toads in the Cape Metropolitan Area

If Western Leopard Toads know where they are going and return to the same site every year, do they ever move between ponds?  Or more technically: is there genetic structure within and between populations?

At some sites, Western Leopard Toads all breed at the same time, but at others they breed much later or earlier. Could this represent a temporal genetic isolation?

Western Leopard Toads have been found far from any known breeding ponds, do they disperse between ponds and is there a sex bias in those animals which disperse?

If Western Leopard Toads can move between ponds, can they also move over mountains?

Genetic studies can be of great help in making informed conservation decisions, as well as informed decisions during mitigation exercises. SANBI (ABR) molecular lab scientist, Lucas Chauke, created a microsatellite library for Western Leopard Toads in the Pritzker Laboratory in August and September, 2008. Microsatellites are polymorphic loci from DNA that generally exhibit a high level of variability. They have been successfully used to determine relationships within a species, both between populations and individuals.

This work is not currently being sponsored. Would you like to sponsor Western Leopard Toad research? Contact the webmaster or call the hotline.

Radio-tracking of Western Leopard Toad

Tracking movement of individual animals can give a generalised picture of which parts of a habitat is used. In the case of the Western Leopard Toads, we do not know whether the majority of toads move through the same areas (the highway theory), or if animals disperse randomly into the surrounding habitat (the scatter theory). Once individuals have finished their migration, the same equipment can be used to discover their home-range and preferred habitat type. Two approaches can be taken:

Attaching transmitters to toads in their foraging habitat just prior to breeding (i.e. during early August). The diurnal resting sites of many toads are known as they occur in gardens, parks and even on mountains in the Cape Peninsula. Locating and attaching transmitters to animals from ambiguous areas (those > 1km from any known breeding site) can be informative about which breeding sites these individuals use, the routes they chose to get there, and whether the same corridors are used by multiple individuals.

Attaching transmitters to toads immediately after breeding. It is easy to determine when females have finished breeding by their thin condition and movement away from a breeding site. At this time both males and females can have transmitters attached to discover the foraging area associated with a single breeding site.

Part of this project is going on in the southern-suburb of Kirstenhof by Farrah Feldmann for her MSc registered at Cape Peninsula University and Technikon. We are currently planning another radio-tracking study for Western Leopard Toads in the Gansbaai area.

This work is being sponsored by SANBI Threatened Species Programme.

Explaining the distribution of Western Leopard Toads

Western Leopard Toads have an odd distribution being found on the Cape Peninsula and part but not all of the Cape Flats. On the other side of False Bay they can be found in some ponds but not others. What factors determine the distribution of Western Leopard Toads?

In this study we are taking a modelling and measuring approach to the ponds where Western Leopard Toads occur and those where they don’t. If we can accurately describe the distribution of this species from knowledge of the conditions that they require, we can begin to decide how to create new habitats within their most threatened areas of occurrence.

Information compiled by John Measey, May 2009

Posted on June 30, 2018 14:43 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment


Western Leopard Toads are among the easiest frogs to maintain in your garden.  In fact, almost any garden within 1 km of a breeding pond probably has at least one resident toad.  The future of this species depends on toad-friendly gardens, as their natural habitat is almost totally converted to suburbia. Any garden fashion that is toad unfriendly could rapidly result in massive population reductions of this species.


First and foremost, the Western Leopard Toad may live in your garden, but every spring they need to be able to get to their breeding ponds. Then the toadlets need to be able to disperse to gardens.

Is your garden walled off from the outside world?

In our modern security-conscious world high solid walls are becoming the norm.  These are major barriers for wildlife.  For smaller animals, these can be made permeable by having “toad holes” at intervals along the wall.  These also allow other animals to move around.  Toad holes should be 50 mm wide and 30mm high.  You should have at least one toad hole for every 20m of wall.  Roof water pipelines can be counted as toad holes.  A 30mm gap below gates is also perfect.  The ideal for wildlife though is palisade fencing.

Electric fencing at ground level lor below 200mm is a deathtrap to many animals. There is no need for this in urban areas, and - indeed - in most rural areas as well.

Is your pavement a death trap?

Toads need to move to their breeding ponds.  However, some pavements prevent toads from crossing the roads: they are forced to walk along the road where they can be ridden over.  Erect curbstones over 10cm high are barriers.  Usually such curbstones can be crossed at driveways so are not really a problem.  If your neighbourhood has deep gutters, get the municipality to install wildlife escape ramps at intervals of 100m in your street. 

Don’t worry about normal storm water drains.  Some wildlife do use these as shortcuts to wetlands.  However, if these drains have permanent water in them, then they can function as lethal pitfall traps, even to toads and frogs.  They are also breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests and need to be repaired.  Alternatively, such drains either need a cover on them to stop animals falling in, or an animal ladder/ramp on the side to allow them to get out.  Contact your nearest environmental officer if you know of any such drains.  Sewerage drains must have gridded covers for the same reason.


Toads need shelter and food in your garden.  Your garden probably has both of these, but you can improve your garden to wildlife by making it environmentally friendly.

How much of your garden is garden?

Paved or tarred areas, areas of stone chips, areas underlain with waterproof plastic and other solid surfaces do not count.  Although these areas look neat and tidy and appeal to many people, they are double trouble.  Firstly, they are sterile and prevent any wild animals (other than some invasive ants) or plants (other than annual weeds) from living there.  Secondly, they do not allow rain water to soak into the soil – instead this water runs off into the storm water system, where it causes severe flooding of wetlands during rains and drying out of wetlands in the dry season.  Why? Because the natural soil recharge where water soaks into the water table and then moves slowly underground to the wetlands in the dry season is destroyed: this water now is dumped immediately into the wetlands.  Some cities are now taxing paved areas as equivalent to dwelling floor space for this reason.

We do need hard surfaces for driveways and paths, so what can we do?  Well, keep the paving to the minimum width.  Use grassovers (paving blocks that allow grass to grow through them) on driveways.  Water from driveways can be drained into your garden and not into the stormwater drains.  If your garden is big enough you can also lead your roofwater into your garden – but not within 2m of your walls or fences!

Lawns look great, but again they are not suitable for most wildlife (other than leatherjackets, earthworms, Eurasion Starlings and Hadedahs – none of which are indigenous to Cape Town).  If you need lawns, keep them to the minimum area.  Where possible mow them slightly higher than normal, so that smaller animals can hide in them.  Also be very careful when you mow in December: look out for Toadlets, and if they are present, rather delay mowing for a week until they have dispersed.

What sort of gardens do Western Leopard Toads prefer?

Although toads don’t care what type of garden you have, like other wildlife they have some important considerations.

Edges:  Walls and borders should have plants against them as cover.  Lawns and pavings against walls are deathtraps for small animals when Fiscal Shrikes, crows, cats, dogs and other predators are around.  A few shrubs against the wall are literally the difference between life and death, and also allow birds and lizards to feed in the open and easily dart for cover.   Especially on your outside facing the street such borders allow many animals to live in the streets – animals as big as Thicknees are able to survive in cities when such borders exist.

Compost Heaps:  In our modern world, the environmentally friendly family will recycle kitchen waste in their compost heap.  This compost can then be used to fertilize the garden.  Both the compost heap itself and the composting will increase the health of your garden and the range of wildlife that is attracted to it.  And your plants will benefit too.

  • Woodpiles: In the modern world woodpiles are increasingly rare.  But if you braai a lot, or like wood fires in winter, consider stacking your wood in a dry area over bare soil rather than on paving.  Only a few pieces of wood will suffer, but the amount of animals that will use the area as a refuge and food source will be amazing. Alternatively, consider having a wood pile that is more permanent. Let it rot and become a home and food source for lots of indigenous animals. If done in the right way, rotting wood can look very attractive and provide a feature for a dark, unused corner of your garden.
  • Rockeries: Dry stone walls, rockeries and other piles of stones also allow plenty of dark, moist hiding places for wildlife, and can be very attractive features in any garden.
  • Ponds:  Western Leopard Toads do not need ponds.  If your garden is watered regularly, they will get all the water they need.   If not they will go and find some water – and it is not unusual to find toads “drinking” by sitting in a pets water bowl.  Don’t worry, the water will not be poisonous afterwards!  See our toads and your pets page. Ensure that ponds (and swimming pools) have escape areas – no high lips all around! See our Install a toadsaver page. Do not take any toads you find to a pond: they do not like water – they are garden dwellers, not like most other frogs.  They can swim, but long periods in water – and especially swimming pool chemicals - kills them

    * Other wildlife:  Gardens suitable for Western Leopard Toads often teem with other wildlife.  Your garden should almost certainly also have Cape Skinks, Cape Dwarf Chameleon, Legless Skinks, Marble Leaf-toed Geckos, Cape Rain Frog (Blaasoppies), and if your are lucky Arum Lily Frogs and Slugeaters as well.  You will probably also have the Golden Mole – please look after it: it is a rare beast and protected by law.  Yes it accidentally kills freshy planted plants and makes lawns look untidy, but they are important for aeration of soil, eating underground grubs and earthworms, and providing safehavens for wildlife.  (Don’t muddle them up with Molerats that will eat your plants from underground).  Your garden almost certainly will also have Cape Whiteeyes, Cape Bulbuls, Double-collared Sunbirds, Olive Thrushes, Cape Robins, Fiscal Shrikes (Jannies), Prinias (Tinktinkies), doves and many other birds.  A bird bath, bird feeding table, or nectar dispenser will help attract more birds.  Your garden should also abound with Bees, Butterflies (especially the Christmas and small Blues), Beetles (Monkey Beetles, Scarab Beetles, Ladybirds, and composting and carrion feeders), Moths, Millipedes (both the stinkers and the pills), and others.  If you are especially lucky you may find Rain Spiders and a huge variety of other goggas as well.  Most of them are good for your garden, helping with composting and keeping down garden pests.   The more wildlife-friendly your garden is the more joy and entertainment you will get out of it.

What do Western Leopard Toads not like?

* Toads absorb moisture through their skin.  They do not like chemicals which kill them: avoid algicides, fungicides and biocides in your swimming pool: they are not environmentally friendly – use them only when you really have to.  Toads can also be killed by detergents from dishwashers, washing machines and laundry: drains with these should be covered.  However, they will be happy with most bath and shower water: a pot plant over or next to such drains often is a good home for toads.  Western Leopard Toads are not pond species: they live in gardens.  Please do not move them to ponds – if they don’t drown they will just walk back.

* Toads also absorb poisons through their skin.  So the spraying of herbicides and pesticides in your garden will kill them if they are directly sprayed.  Unfortunately one does not notice them hiding in their hiding places, but the poisons do find them.  A healthy garden will rely on natural animals to keep pests under control – so keep all poisons to a minimum.  The less you use them, the less you will find that you need to use them.  But if you use poisons, you will kill your biocontrols, and without these animals to eat possible pests, pests will become a serious and expensive problem.  The Western Leopard Toad is probably your biggest and one of the more important pest control in the garden!  And, like all the other wildlife controlling potential pests in your garden, it is free!

* Snail bait is also a poison, and does not only kill snails and slugs, but also birds, Glow Beatles (yes! Your “Glowworms” are beetles and eat snails!), Slugeaters and many other animals that naturally control your snails.  Rather use a more natural method – beer traps for instance, are not a waste of good beer!

* Pesky pets.  Most cats and dogs do not bother Western Leopard Toads.  When scared toads secrete a foul-tasting poison that intelligent pets learn first time to leave alone.  Thus in most gardens dogs, cats and toads coexist happily with mutual respect for each other.  See our toads and your pets page if your pet accidentally bites a toad.

Some breeds though are not suitable for toads.  The only real problem are some of the smaller terrier breeds.  However, these are often indoor dogs, which will dig up your garden chasing every mole, lizard, bird and moving thing anyway.  These dogs are usually instinctive killers and a few do not learn that toads, if threatened, can defend themselves with poison.  In this case, you are best off keeping your dogs out of the garden.  Watch out every summer as it is likely that at least some toads will enter your garden.  But toads also don’t want to be killed and will quickly learn to avoid your dogs.  But dog poisoning is very rare: on average less than one dog per year gets poisoned, compared to the hundreds of dogs that get ridden over each year.


Your garden contains all the food your toad could want.  There is no need to provide any supplements or micronutrients for your toads: their natural food is all that they need.

What do toads do for your garden?

* Western Leopard Toads are voracious feeders of goggas.  Snails, bugs, beetles, earthworms, caterpillars are all good food.  They are one of the larger biocontrol and pest control animals in your garden and should be treated with the care they deserve.  They perform this useful function for free!

* Western Leopard Toads are great garden pets.  Leave them alone to find where they want to nest and feed.  But there is no harm in taming them with titbits (mealworms or earthworms are scrumptious, and mince is a treat), and if you regularly feed your toad it will soon learn and be waiting for you at feeding time.  But remember your toad is part of your garden ecosystem: it is supposed to be keeping your garden free of pests, not living off you.

During dry and cold periods they will stay in their nests (really just a scrape).  Occasionally toads seem to want to move indoors, and some people are comfortable with this.  It is better though if you encourage your toad to sleep outside: inside they seem to favour slippers and shoes as nests, with comic (and unforgettable) consequences. 

Don’t forget to photograph your toad and upload the photo on UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website.  That way if s/he is photographed at the breeding ponds, or during migration, we can track their movements and find out where your toad breeds.

There is no reason why your toad should not come back to your garden year after year.  They have strong homing instincts and regularly return to their favourite spots after breeding.  If you would like to do more for your Western Leopard Toad, then please see how you can help <link to how you can help page>

Conservation issues:

I don’t have Western Leopard Toads in my garden?  Where can I get one?

Western Leopard Toads are an Endangered species.  By law, you are not allowed to transport them or cage them.  Nor are you allowed to sell them.  This applies to the adults, toadlets and tadpoles.  Why is this?

Western Leopard Toads exist as a series of gene pools linked to their breeding ponds.  The different gene pools are all special and contain some genetic features not found in other populations.  Moving toads around mixes up these gene pools and may result in populations becoming genetically unfit and dying out.

If your garden does not have its own Western Leopard Toad then it is for one of two reasons. 
*  Firstly, your garden may not be suitable.  Any toads you put into your garden will then die of starvation.  So it would be both cruel and unethical to do that.  If you are within range of a breeding pond, then concentrate on making your garden environmentally friendly: when you succeed your toad will come hopping.
*  Secondly, you may be too far away from a breeding pool.  Every year the Western Leopard Toad trots down to its pond to ensure that a new generation of toads will populate our gardens.  If your garden is too far away from these ponds, your toad will leave and never come back.  It would also miss the breeding season by arriving too late.  It would then go to a garden nearby the nearest breeding pond it can find, and for the next few years would contaminate the gene pool.  We want to conserve our Western Leopard Toads, not wipe them out. 

If I cannot have a Western Leopard Toads in my garden, what can I have?

The Western Leopard Toad is not the only frog in Cape Town.  There are also the Cape Platanna, Cape Rain Frog, Micro Frog, Rose’s Mountain Toad and Cape Caco within the urban area of Cape Town.  Some of these may occur in your garden.  All of these are in the Red Data List and are also threatened with extinction to some degree.  So you can help by keeping them alive in your garden.  But, like the Western Leopard Toads, only if they occur there already.  Do not move them around or swap them or bring in some other species.  Otherwise you might mix up the gene pools, spread diseases and cause other problems.

Don’t even think about bringing in frogs from outside of Cape Town.  Many of these species will hybridize and interbreed with our frogs and then they will almost certainly become extinct as a species!  Already we have some alien frogs in Cape Town that are causing problems!  Please do not make matters worse!  Our frogs need your help. 

But there is far more to an environmentally friendly garden that just frogs.  You will still have all the other wildlife to enjoy, even if you are unfortunately enough not to have Western Leopard Toads.

Information compiled by Mark Day, May 2009

Posted on June 30, 2018 16:38 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

WHAT TO DO IF I FIND A WESTERN LEOPARD TOAD... my veggie patch? the swimming pool? ...on the road? ...dead on the road? ...injured on the side of the road? a storm water gutter? my pond? amplexus? in my house my shoe? the house? my dogs water bowl? my toilet? the drain? ... in my garage? ...under my washing machine? my dogs mouth?

What to do if I find a Western Leopard Toad in my veggie patch?

An organic vegetable patch free of pesticides creates perfect habitat for toads and other small vertebrates. It provides a constant food supply (crickets, snails, worms) for your toad in areas which may otherwise lack sufficient prey items and it is generally damp which mimics the toadsҠnatural habitat.

If you find your toad in your veggie patch, leave him there as he is keeping your invertebrate pests under control and giving you the gift of biodiversity!

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

What to do if I find a Western Leopard Toad in the swimming pool?

Swimming pools can account for large amounts of many animals, including Western Leopard Toads, drowning unnecessarily.

Short term: Carefully remove your toad from the pool with a swimming pool net, rinse it in fresh water and place it in a safe area of your garden (under a bush, pile of rocks, retainer blocks, vegetable patch). Place a piece of polystyrene in your weir, a rock on the step and check your pool daily especially after rain. A strip of mesh may be placed over the weir to prevent toads from getting sucked down the weir.

Long term: If you are building a new pool, choose an animal friendly pool such as a beach pool or a raised pool.

If you have a pool already, install a Toadsaver in your pool so that your toads can get out immediately reducing the harmful effects of chlorine and unnecessary deaths of numerous animals!
Click here to learn how easy it is to install a toad saver: Toadnuts : How to install your own Toadsaver.
Once you install your saver, Your toad will now be able to exit freely reducing chlorine absorption and swimming pool drownings! Well done!! For other frogs, place a large rock on a step, they can't climb up the Toadsaver like the toads do! (Toads can walk and hop, frogs can only hop!)

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

On the road at night?

Toads are nocturnal and come out to forage at night, sometimes crossing a road which can be devastating. They are mostly seen on the roads during the August migration to and from the breeding ponds where they can migrate up to 2 kms in search of the nearest water body.

Look out for the toad road signs warning you of toads at night in your area.

During August drive slowly on these roads and watch out for small reflective white stones on the road (The toadӳ throat is white and thatӳ all you see at night reflecting from your car lights).

Put your hazards on, stop on the side of the road, have a reflector jacket handy in your car as drivers canӴ see you at night even with a torch, when the road is clear remove the toad from the road and place it into the bushes in the direction that it was going.  
Dont take them to the breeding pond as that may not be where they are going, rather put them in a safe area close to where you found them in the direction that they are going.
It is important not to move the toad any distance as they can be disorientated and may spend more valuable time trying to find their way. Contact your local volunteer group if you would like to volunteer in your area.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

Dead on the road?

At least the death of this toad will contribute to science and we will have a better understanding of how many toads are dying due to road kill which will help our volunteers keep high road kill areas safe.
If you are able to; bag it and keep in the deepfreeze, with a date, GPS or address found and your contact details. Then contact your local representative to pick up the frozen carcass to pass on to SANBI for analysis.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

Injured on the side of the road?

This toad was hit by a car as you can see a secretion of toxin produced by a toad in distress.. We monitored the toad and after 10 minutes he started walking again, we then released it in a safe place in the direction that he was going.
If your toad is not badly injured with an open cut wound, itӳ better to leave the toad in a safe place near to where you found it.
We did witness a toad with a damaged leg at the breeding pond, still managing to join in on the breeding season.
If you find a toad which is badly injured and still alive, note down the exact place that you found the toad, keep it in a cardboard box at outside temperatures (not in the sun), donӴ warm it up as this will increase its metabolism, contact your local toad representative.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In a storm water gutter?

Toads and other small vertebrates often get stuck in obstacles such as storm water gutters, if you find one, carefully remove

the toad from the gutter and place it into the bushes in the direction that it was going. 
DonӴ take them to the breeding pond as that may not be where they are going, rather put them in a safe area close to where you found them in the direction that they are going.
It is important not to move the toad as they can be disorientated and may spend more valuable time trying to find their way.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my pond?

If you are a pond owner with Western Leopard Toads breeding in your pond, please be sure to contact the relevant toad representative in your area.
It is important that we know of as many breeding ponds as possible to better safeguard our migrating toads.
Be sure to note the date that your toads start calling, when eggs are laid and when the toadlets emerge from the pond.
Be sure to look after your pond by removing all alien ducks and fish in your ecosystem which can cause a micro extinction of endangered toads and many other frog species that rely on your pond for survival.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In amplexus?

It is an amazing privilege to witness toads in amplexus. If they are in immediate danger (e.g. in a road) itӳ it best to move them out of harms way carefully and leave the pair alone to carry on with their journey to the breeding pond.

The female doesnӴ like to be picked up as sheӳ holding valuable cargo, she may give off a Ҭet me goҠcall, just handle the pair carefully and place them out of danger in the direction that they were going.
DonӴ take them to the breeding pond as that may not be where they are going, rather put them in a safe area close to where you found them in the direction that they are going.
It is important not to move the toad as they can be disorientated and may spend more valuable time trying to find their way.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my shoe?

Toads being nocturnal, seek out dark, hard places which will protect them from predators such as birds and snakes and keep them cool and moist. You may want to check for toads first if you leave your shoes outside. If you have old shoes you can scatter them around your garden under the bushes to provide your toad with a nice home!

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In the house?

Toads sometimes enter into houses as the dark interior appears to be like going into a crack between two rocks. Once inside they usually look for somewhere small and dark to stay. Sometimes these places become regular homes and people find that they are sharing their house with a beautiful Western Leopard Toad. This usually happens when people leave doors to the outside open for pets. However, there are many hazards in the house for a toad such as the vacuum machine, being trapped in a draw or cupboard or dehydration and starvation (if you block regular access to the outside). Be sure to close your doors at night to prevent nocturnal toads from wandering inside and getting trapped indoors. If you do have a resident toad who knows his way around your home, be sure to leave something open for easy exit such as a cat flap low to the ground or gap open in the door (1 ֠2cm will do)

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my dogs water bowl?

The reason why your toad is in the water bowl is because he is looking for a moist place.

Safeguard your dogs water bowl by inverting another water bowl underneath to prevent toads climbing in, alternatively place a rock inside your dog bowl to allow your toad to get out.

You can place alternative low water sources in your garden for your toad to choose with a rock inside to allow the toad to get out.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my toilet

Scoop your toad out with a long thin soup ladle, wash him off with water, place him in the garden in a safe place (bush, rocks, retainer blocks, vegetable patch)

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In the drain?

Scoop your toad out of the drainpipe with a long thin ladle, alternatively place a piece of mesh down the drain for him to climb out (this wont work for frogs as they cant climb, only works for toads)
Place your toad in the garden in a safe place (bush, rocks, retainer blocks, vegetable patch)
If your toad has found a home in your drain area and detergent is actively dripping onto the toad, use biodegradable products and check out for a wonderful detergent free product!

Alternatively glue a piece of mesh half way down the drain area allowing the toad to still live there but protecting it from the detergent outlet, be sure to close up any gaps in the mesh as they can slip through a gap as small as 1cm! Cover it with a rock or cement slab to protect your toad from predators.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my garage?

Leave him there, I have a toad living in my garage in a pile of newspaper, he goes out to forage at night through gap down the side of the garage door. Toads can squeeze themselves through gaps as small as 1cm so as long as there is a gap to serve as an entrance/exit point, he has probably made a cool, dry, safe home in your garage safe from predators and rain. Be sure to check your driveway when you drive on rainy nights especially in August!

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

Under my washing machine?

Toads often seek out cool, damp areas away from predators such as snakes and birds.
Toads can squeeze themselves through gaps as small as 1- 2cm.
As long as there is a gap to serve as an entrance/exit point, he has probably made a cool, dry, safe home under your washing machine. Your toad is perfectly happy there and should be left alone.
If detergent is actively dripping onto the toad, a biodegradable detergent is recommended or check out for a wonderful detergent free product!

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

In my dog's mouth?

Toads and pets dont normally have problems but if your pet does try to kill a toad, your toad will try to save its life by releasing a small amount of toxin from the parotid gland behind each eye which means "Let me go"
The toxin tastes awful which repels most predators and it is unlikely that your pet would try again If you dog ingest some toxin, it may start frothing at the mouth, wash your dog's mouth out with water or a cloth immediately before taking your pet to the vet.

Symptoms are often short lived unless your pet refuses to let the toad go resulting in too much toxin being ingested which may be fatal in extreme cases. If necessary, place a few hiding places such as a pile of wood or retainer blocks for your toad on the far end of the garden. Toads are nocturnal so easily avoided. For more information visit pets & vets.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

Underneath the trampoline?

Any ditch can be a death trap for many small animals, you can place a piece of mesh, few old tyres, sandbags, or raise the soil area to create an exit point out of your ditch.

Take a photo of your toad and follow this link to contribute to citizen science by uploading your toad.

Information compiled by Suzi Jirachareonkul, 2009.

Posted on June 30, 2018 20:55 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment


Summary of literature review identifying waterfowl suited to WLT breeding sites


This list has been compiled for the Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee with specific reference to the breeding sites of the Western Leopard Toad (Sclerrophrys pantherina).
In an effort to maximize the breeding success of the Toads, certain management actions and or preventative measures could be important.  This is especially important where humans impact directly on the breeding sites and foraging ranges of toads.  One of these impacts is the management of domestic and alien ducks, and the option of using suitable indigenous species. This list therefore identifies the indigenous waterfowl species most suitable for introduction into wetlands that are important breeding areas for WLT.  Waterfowl seldom threaten adult toads, and their impacts are largely to the eggs and tadpoles of the WLT in their breeding ponds.  It is also important to mention that the use of locally indigenous species is recommended and therefore details on the distribution of each species has been included. 

The purpose of this document is to identify species for introduction to dams and ponds.  Please note that indigenous waterfowl that have become established on private property on their own accord must under no circumstance be shot, hunted, removed by whatever means or have their nests pillaged, etc.  Waterfowl are highly mobile and suitable areas may be colonized and deserted by birds at any time.  Birds may be present only sporadically, or only at certain times of day, or they may take up residence for breeding or moulting.  Predation of tadpoles is natural and part of selection process acting on WLT.  Any attempt to remove wild populations or individuals - where they are suspected of severely impacting WLT - must be done with the consent of and in collaboration and consultation with the City’s Biodiversity Management Branch and/or CapeNature. 

Please note that this list is based on literature only. It is subject to revision following studies resulting from future introductions as well as interviews with existing breeders.

To this purpose, waterfowl have been divided into 3 categories:
Toad friendly”: Species that do not feed on tadpoles, and are thus compatible with WLT breeding ponds;
Questionable”: Species that are less suitable, but would probably only impact in WLT under unusual conditions.  Supplementary feeding could prevent predation on tadpoles, but this must still be confirmed.  Until more information is available these species are not recommended for introduction into WLT breeding ponds; &
Species not suitable”, as they are known to feed on tadpoles and should never intentionally be introduced into WLT breeding sites.

Note that the Mallard and White Quackers are illegal and may not be allowed into the wild.  Please report any birds seen to your conservation officer for immediate eradication.

Click on the links below to skip to a section:

Toad-friendly Options | Questionable Options | Species not suitable | Exotic species to be removed


White-backed Duck (Thalassornis leuconotus)

Distribution:  Scattered in E. Cape.  Uncommon and localized in W. Cape with the majority of the population confined to a few water bodies, mostly on the northern fringes of Cape Peninsula and southern coastal lowlands.  

Diet: A forager in bottom muds among aquatic herbs.  Some 97% of their diet consists of aquatic herbs, in particular Nymphaea & Nymphoides, as well as seeds.  Chironomid larvae have been found in the stomachs of ducklings.

Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma)

Distribution:  Widespread but patchy, most abundant (but with large annual fluctuations) in W. Cape and on the highveld.

Diet: Little is known about their diet, but the majority of the stomach contents studied(almost 99%) consist of plant material, mainly seeds and fruit, but also Nymphaea & Nymphiodes, rhizomes, grass and leaves.  Animal material never exceeds 3%, and includes fluke snails. 

South African Shelduck (Tadorna cana)

Distribution:  Particularly abundant in W. Cape, E. Cape and N. Cape and southern Free State. 

Diet:  Young feed largely on submerged aquatic vegetation, including algae.  Adults mainly feed on plant material (96%) such as maize seeds, sorghum seeds and submerged aquatic plants (e.g. algae).  Animal food is ingested during the pre-breeding period and includes mainly crustacean and tendipedid larvae and pupae, in addition to plant material. 

Egyptian Goose (Alpochen aegyptiaca)

Distribution:  Extensive range in SA.  Most abundant in W. Cape, KZN interior and Mpumalanga.  Absent only from regions of extreme aridity or high altitude. 

Diet:  Primarily a grazer and grass seed-stripper.  They feed on grasses, grain, shoots, leaves, aquatic plants, young crops, wheat, oats, lucerne, barley, groundnut and sunflowers.  When moulting they rely solely on aquatic algae, pondweed & Kwick Cynodon dactylon.  Invertebrates are mostly ingested by accident, but they will occasionally eat termite alates. 

Fulvous Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor)

Distribution: Recorded widely but sparsely in NE South Africa, but a fairly common summer visitor to Witwatersrand.  Uncommon in Free-State.  Mainly in coastal lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal, especially north and less frequent inland.  Extends southwards through E. Cape to W. Cape, but a rare visitor with few breeding records. 

Diet: Mainly plant material (98.8%) including grass seeds, filaments of algae, Nymphaea & Nymphoides.  Aquatic insects form 1.2% of diet. 

White-faced Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)

Distribution:  Widespread and common in lowveld and bushveld.  Widespread in KwaZulu-Natal.  Fairly widespread in northern and central Free-State.  Scattered and irregular occurrence through E. Cape and W. Cape. 

Diet:  Dominated by plant material (99 – 100%) with possible slight increase in small invertebrates during breeding and moult.  They are exceptionally efficient at assimilating protein from plant matter.  Animal material ingested includes molluscs and insects. 

Comb Duck / Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos)

Distribution: Widespread in lowveld and bushveld of north-east.  Common in floodplains of north-east KZN.  Irregular visitor or vagrant to Free State, E., W. and N. Cape. 

Diet:  Almost exclusively plant material which includes crop residue, seeds, fruits of grasses and herbs, rhizomes, leaves (including Nymphaea & Nymphoides) and negligible amounts of animal matter such as termite alates.


Maccoa Duck (Oxyura maccoa)

Distribution:  South African strongholds in W. Cape and Highveld.  Scattered records throughout uplands of KZN, also in N. Cape, E. Cape and Free-State. 

Diet: Forages almost exclusively by diving, feeding in bottom muds.  Feeds mainly on small invertebrates such as midge larvae and pupae (45%), ostracods (32%), gastropods (19%) and other organisms (4%).  They also feed on snails, water fleas and some seeds and roots. 

Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata)  

Distribution: Common throughout South Africa, although largely absent from arid areas. 

Diet: Some 83% plant material (such as new growth of aquatic plants) and 17% animal material (mainly chironomid larvae).  Females eat less plant matter (71%) than Males but the animal component remains similar with the inclusion of mayflies.   Pre-fledging juveniles eat substantially less plant material (29%) and a wider range of animal species (including larvae, grasshoppers and snails). 

Notes: Yellow-billed Ducks hybridize with Mallard and White Quackers.  The main reason why Mallards & White Quackers must be removed is that our native Yellow-billed Duck populations are being replaced by undesirable hybrid swarms.  These hybrid individuals must also be removed. 

Spur-winged Goose (Plectropterus gambensis)

Distribution:  Common in W. and E. Cape, but sparse in N. Cape.  Has spread into the Nama Karoo.  Western Cape birds are possibly derived from introductions in early 1940’s. 

Diet: The bulk of the diet consists of plant material including rhizomes, stolons, leaves, seeds and filaments of algae.  Some animal matter is included in the diet such as termite alates, bugs, beetles and larvae.  Young also catch small fish by diving. 

African Black Duck (Anas sparsa)

Distribution:  Most common below escarpment in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, E. Cape and W. Cape, but also widespread over much of eastern and southern central plateau.  Extends into Karoo along rivers. 

Diet:  Little is known, but it is presumed to feed mainly on benthic invertebrates and vegetable matter such as seeds and fruit.  Animal material eaten includes insect larvae, crustaceans, molluscs, crabs and fish fry. 

African Pygmy-Goose (Nettapus auritus)

Distribution:  Widespread in KwaZulu-Natal, but with more scattered southwards along coastal plain, with some records further inland including Kruger NP.  Few records, mostly pre-1920, from E. Cape. 

Diet:  Reported as essentially surface feeders, but mostly dives to obtain Nymphaea pods.  Some 98 – 100% of the diet consists of ripe seeds and flower parts of water lilies.  Other food includes grasses, pondweeds, seeds, fish fry, insects and moth larvae and pupae. 


Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Distribution:  Recorded over most of South Africa, but most common on the Highveld and in W. Cape, less uniformly distributed elsewhere and only scattered over much of N. Cape. 

Diet:  Consists of plant (24%) and animal material (76%), but proportions vary. They will feed on maize, wheat and sunflower seeds, lucerne, grass seeds as well as worms, aquatic crustaceans, tadpoles and fish.   

Cape Shoveller (Anas smithii)

Distribution:  Most abundant in lowlands of W. Cape, and Highveld of Free-State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and NW Province.  Scattered from west coast through to Nama Karoo, E. Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.  Patchy or absent elsewhere. 

Diet:  Some 70% animal matter such as snails, insects, crustaceans and tadpoles and 30% plant material such as leaves and stems. 

Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota)

Distribution:  Most common in northern Highveld of NW Province, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, extending to uplands and coastal lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal.  Scattered elsewhere in South Africa, Free-State N. Cape and E. Cape. A rare visitor to W. Cape.

Diet: Some 35 – 55% of the diet is animal material, which specifically includes small frogs.  During Jun – Nov the percentage animal material ingested increases to over 90%. 

Cape Teal (Anas capensis)

Distribution: Widespread in southern Africa.  Most common in western coastal lowlands of W. Cape and on western Highveld of inland plateau. 

Diet: Forages mostly by filtering on surface and below, but will also pick animals off submerged vegetation.  The diet consists of 80 - 99% animal material which includes insects, larvae, crustaceans and platanna tadpoles.  The 17% plant material in their diet consists mainly of water plants (stems & leaves). 


Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Distribution:  There are two main localized, feral populations: in W. Cape and Gauteng. These probably originating from escapees from wildfowl collections. 

Diet: Omnivorous, but food varies with season and locality.  Eats seeds, cereals, aquatic vegetation and roots, also insects, molluscs, crustaceans, annelids, amphibians and fish. 

Note: The White Quacker is a Mallard and also breeds with Yellow-billed Ducks.  Mallards and White Quackers must be reported and eliminated wherever they are found in the wild.  Permits are required to keep Mallards or White Quackers, and they must be in enclosures.

Compiled by: Suretha Dorse, February 2009.

Source: Hockey, PAR, Dean WRJ, Ryan PG (eds), 2005, Roberts – Birds of Southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.

Acknowledgements: We thank the following for comments on this list: Clifford Dorse, Dr. Tony Rebelo & Dr. John Measey.

Posted on June 30, 2018 21:20 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Western Leopard Toad Volunteer Groups

CALL THE WLT HOTLINE: 082 516 3602

Today, the majority the distribution of the Western Leopard Toad falls under residential suburbs and agriculture, making monitoring complicated. Since the expansion and transformation of the City of Cape Town, the majority of toads have moved into residential gardens and live behind the secure walls of private properties. As a result the fate of these toads lies largely within the control and actions of the urban landowner.

Every year from around the end of July until early September, residents of these toad inhabited areas gather their torches and coats to brace the winter chill and rescue their native dwellers as it is during this period when annual breeding takes place.

The map WLT Observations (click!) shows all the known suburbs where Western Leopard Toads live or forage. Breeding does not occur in all, but Western Leopard Toads may live up to five kilometres from their breeding sites. Therefore they may well occur in suburbs not highlighted here, so if you know of one in an area not indicated here, we would like to know!
Either Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602 or better still (UPLOAD YOUR TOAD(click)

The need for volunteers is extensive as breeding sites are numerous and scattered. The follow list indicates what areas of assistance we are looking for:
Breeding season night patrols for census & monitoring (jump)
Toadlet emergence monitoring(jump)
Popular Article Writing (jump)
Design and Advertising (jump)
Sponsorship (jump)

Breeding season night patrols for census and monitoring

Volunteers are needed to assist in night patrols across the suburbs highlighted in the map below. The chief tasks of these helpers would be the moving of toads across roads, to prevent roadkills by motorists. Data is to be recorded of each toad, including a GPS waypoint of the location, a clear photograph of the dorsal or back of the toad from an aerial view, a measurement of the length of each individual and the weight of each toad.  

These volunteers are asked to bring the following:

  • Torch
  • Raincoat
  • Closed shoes or boots for wet weather
  • Clipboard, observation sheet and road kill data slip and pencil OR smartphone loaded with iNaturalist app, with the project WLT Monitoring added.
  • Ruler or ruled paper in ice-cream container
  • GPS and Camera OR Smartphone loaded with iNaturalist app, with the project WLT Monitoring added.
  • Reflector jacket or stickers
    A small scale to record the weight of the toad

Breeding movement around each site may occur from two days up to two weeks. Thus if residents are looking to assist in one area alone, the period of monitoring would be brief. Volunteers interested in assisting in surrounding suburbs as well can expect to be busy for a longer space of time of perhaps as long as a month.
A roster is drawn up for each suburb, therefore depending on the number of volunteers per suburb, individuals would be grouped into teams working every second, third or fourth day.

Please contact the WLT Hotline on 082 516 3602 or (sorry about the gap - see lower)

one of the following people for your area:



Contact Details

Muizenberg (incl. Frogmore Estate, Kirstenhof, Lakeside & Marina Da Gama)

Susan Wishart

083 441 4740

Tokai (incl. Blue Route, Constantia, Nova Constantia, Steenberg, Sweet Valley, Westlake & Zwaanswyk)

Hanniki Pieterse
Frenske Otzen

084 262 6633
082 771 2957

Bergvliet (incl. Meadowridge, Plumstead & Retreat)

Michelle Walton

083 650 8666

Grassy Park (incl. Lotus River, Phillipi & Zeekoeivlei)

Mark Day

084 738 1130

Observatory (incl. Ottery & Pinelands)

Helene Louw

072 236 6146

Hout Bay

Yvonne Kamp

083 402 8541

SPOTS (incl. Capri, Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Kommetjie, Noordhoek & Sun Valley)

Suzie Jirchareonkul

082 476 1016

Toadlet emergence monitoring

Equally important as the adult toads of the breeding season, toadlets are the product of those spawning toads and efforts of the volunteers to get them there alive. Unlike the breeding movement of the adult toads in winter, toadlets disperse typically in the morning in mass, searching for foraging habitat or gardens which to call home. Volunteers who are preferably local residents, are asked to assist in the collecting and moving of these tiny critters over roads.
 Since the toadlets disperse all at once from each site, volunteers are required for only one day for a few hours. This is a fun activity and learning experience for the whole family, so if you would like to bring your children along that would be great! Please see the above table for the relevant contact details.


If you are unable to help us on the roads, you are most welcome to be a scout. Scouts play an imperative role in this operation, because they alert us to when the toads start moving and we in turn mobilize teams to do the patrolling.  
This role would require volunteers to monitor the streets from their homes and perhaps even take a drive through the roads to check if there is any first sign of toads moving in the streets. This activity would commence from the end of July until early September, during which time each site can be active for up to two weeks.

Your kind assistance would also be welcome in the spring season, when the toadlets emerge and disperse from the breeding sites. The time period for this is from the end of November until early January.

For more information please call the WLT Hotline on 082 516 3602.

Popular Article Writing

If you have a knack with words, you could assist us in writing popular articles for magazines, local newspapers and various other publications. This function is needed throughout the year, but especially in the months leading up to and during the breeding season (May-September) and then before, during and after the toadlets emergence season (November-Febuary).
Three categories of article types can be discerned:

The species plight and general
These would exclude the subjects of the breeding season and toadlet emergence.
Examples of article topics are indicated as follows: The importance of Western Leopard Toads and the benefits of their presence in your garden; Wise-use gardening; Western Leopard Toads and similar or other frogs/toads in the distribution; What to do with an injured toad; predators and invasive species - how you can help?; Installing a toad saver; Creating a vegetable patch; Creating your own recycling heap.

Breeding season
Examples of article topics are indicated as follows: Call for volunteers; Be alert on the roads while driving; sponsor monitoring resources; Submit a photo of your toad.

Toadlet emergence
Examples of article topics are indicated as follows: How to attract toadlets to your garden; Securing the livelihood of toadlets in your garden; Volunteer to assist emerging toadlets at breeding sites; Installing a toad saver.

* All articles written are to go via the Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee for the checking of factual information. For more information please call the WLT Hotline on 082 516 3602.

Design and Advertising

If you have experience in this field, you are welcome to contact us to discuss how you could assist!
We are looking for illustration to compliment articles and be used in awareness drives and on temporary signage.
For more information please call the WLT Hotline on 082 516 3602.


If you would like to contribute sponsorship please contact the Hotline on 082 516 3602.

Last updated 2009 - about to be updated!

Posted on June 30, 2018 18:18 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 1 comment | Leave a comment


How can I be sure that I am looking at or listening to a Western Leopard Toad?
Look at our pages on the Western Leopard Toad Species Page.

I know that toads breed in a pond near where I live, should I call you?

Most of the useful information on populations comes when the toads are breeding.  Unfortunately, different ponds breed at slightly different times, so we cannot plan ahead.  Please wait until the toads start to call, then
Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602.

If there is a toad rescue group near you, they will be informed and you may wish to join them. Alternatively, a new group may be needed!

I have found a live Western Leopard Toad on the road, what should I do with it?
Carefully take the toad out of the road and place it on the other side in the direction it was facing or moving. Do not move the toad anywhere else. Do not move the toad to a wetland or pond. The toads can navigate to and from their breeding ponds and their foraging areas. They know where they are going even if you don't! If you move them, they might get lost, or worse might end up in the wrong population.

I have found a Western Leopard Toad in my garden, what should I do with it?
Much of the habitat for Western Leopard Toads is now gardens, so the toad is already where it should be. If you fear that the toad might fall into your swimming pool, or be attacked by your dog, then carefully move the toad within your garden but away from these risks. If you have a lot of toads in your garden, and a digital camera, you could help by taking ID pictures and uploading them to the website: UPLOAD YOUR TOAD. Do not move the toad anywhere else. Do not move the toad to a wetland or pond. The toads navigate very well between their own breeding ponds and their "homes" in your garden. If you move them, they might get lost, or worse might end up in the wrong population.

Are Western Leopard Toads dangerous to people?
Like all other toads, Western Leopard Toads have toxins which are designed to protect the toads from being eaten by predators. The toxins are harmless to the touch and only effective if ingested. It is also a fallacy that toads can give you warts - so you and your family are safe!

My dog has attacked a Western Leopard Toad, will it harm my dog?
All toads have toxins which will be distasteful to dogs. The first taste that your dog gets should be so bad that it lets the toad go and never touches another again. If your dog is persistent or if it is worrying the toad, then carefully move the toad to an area of your garden away from this risk. If you have a lot of toads in your garden, and a digital camera, you could help by taking an ID picture and putting it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. See our page on toads, dogs and vets.

I don't want Western Leopard Toads in my garden because they can kill my dog/s, what should I do?
Much of the habitat for Western Leopard Toads is now gardens, so the toad is already where it should be. If you fear that the toad might be attacked by your dog, then carefully move the toad within your garden but away from these risks.
Toads are very useful in gardens as they eat many pests such as slugs. If you have a lot of toads then consider making an area of your garden which is off-limits to your dogs so that you can place the toads there. You can then put a barrier (such as plastic sheeting) along the bottom of the fence of this section, with openings to allow toads to freely access safer areas in and out of the cordoned section. If you have a lot of toads in your garden, and a digital camera or cellphone, you could help by taking an ID picture and putting it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. Do not move the toad anywhere else: this is their home and they will just move back. Do not move the toad to a wetland or pond: they live in gardens. If you move the toad, they might get lost and end up breeding in the wrong population. See our page on toads, dogs and vets.

My dog has eaten a Western Leopard Toad, will my dog die?
All toads have toxins which will be distasteful to dogs. The first time your dog tastes a toad should cure him of ever trying again.  If your dog is one of the very rare dogs that persists in worrying toads and it eats the toad entirely you should contact your vet immediately. If you have a lot of toads then consider making an area of your garden which is off-limits to your dogs so that you can place the toads there. You can then put a barrier (such as plastic sheeting) along the bottom of the fence of this section, with openings to allow toads to freely access safer areas in and out of the cordoned section. See our page on toads, dogs and vets.

My cat/dog killed a Western Leopard Toad, what should I do with the toad?
Take an ID picture and put it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. It might have been photographed by someone else who took a photograph, allowing us to know its age and movements.
Place the toad in a plastic bag with a piece of paper stating the date you found it, the place you found it, your name and address and telephone number. Put the bag in your freezer and Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602. The toad will be very useful in genetic and population studies. 

I found a dead Western Leopard Toad on the road, what should I do with it?
Take an ID picture and put it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. It might have been photographed by someone else who took a photograph, allowing us to know its age and movements.
Place the toad in a plastic bag with a piece of paper stating the date you found it, the place you found it, your name and telephone number.
Put the bag in your freezer and then please contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602. The toad will be very useful in genetic and population studies. 

I found a dead Western Leopard Toad on the road but it is too squashed to pick up, what should I do with it?
Take an ID picture and put it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. It might have been photographed by someone else who took a photograph, allowing us to know its age and movements and date of death.

We need to make a count of all toads that are killed on the roads. If you cannot pick it up, leave it for a toad patrol who will count it. If there are no toad patrols in your area, you can contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602. Otherwise please remove it to the road verge: we do not want other animals that might feed on the dead toads to also become roadkill Please be very careful: dont become roadkill yourself.

Toads keep falling into my swimming pool, what should I do?
Inspect your pool every morning and remove any toads as quickly as possible with a pool net. Rinse the toad with fresh water to remove harmful pool chemicals. Put the toads on the other side of your house away from the pool. This would be a good time to get an ID picture on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. Place a piece of polystyrene or a plank of wood into your pool so that the toads have something to climb onto. This way, the toads won't be so harmed by the chemicals in your pool. An even better solution is to easily install a toad saver in your pool.

A toad died in my swimming pool, what should I do with it?
Take an ID picture and put it on the UPLOAD YOUR TOAD website. It might have been photographed by someone else who took a photograph, allowing us to know its age and movements.
Place the toad in a plastic bag with a piece of paper stating the date you found it, the place you found it, your name and address and telephone number. Put the bag in your freezer and contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602.
To prevent more toads and other small animals dying in your pool, place a piece of polystyrene or a plank of wood into the water so that the toads have something to climb onto. Even better install a toad saver in your pool. Please see how easy it is to install a toad saver in your pool.

How do I encourage Western Leopard Toads to use my Garden?
See our Page on Toad Friendly Gardens

Information compiled by John Measey, May 2009.

Posted on June 30, 2018 12:22 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 12, 2018

Extinct and Threatened in Cape Town.

The following list is just for the City of Cape Town.
This explains why Cape Town is the world's biggest environmental disaster!


It is a sad reality that Cape Town leads the world in terms of species that are threatened with extinction or extinct. Some 13 plant species that used to occur in Cape Town are now globally extinct in the wild. A further 306 of Cape Town’s plant species, and 27 of its animal species, are in immediate danger of extinction. Contrary to what most people think, it is not in the tropics that the greatest concentration of threatened species occurs, but in Cape Town.

What are they?

Most threatened species in Cape Town are plants:
almost 320 species are threatened with extinction, of which 13 are already extinct.
A quarter of the city’s frogs and toads (amphibians) are threatened with extinction.
Unfortunately, we know very little about the ‘creepy crawlies’, and Cape Town probably has many
threatened invertebrates as well.

Note for ‘Extinct’. This refers to species that are globally extinct. All mammals over 50 kg were hunted out in Cape Town by the year 1700, but most still survive in southern Africa. Large mammals currently present (such as at Cape Point) have been reintroduced from elsewhere.

What are the Extinct species?

The following species that used to occur in Cape Town are now listed in the IUCN Red List as “Globally Extinct”. Below, the date and cause of extinction are given for each:

Buchu family: Hairy Buchu Macrostylis villosa subsp. minor (1960s; vineyards in the Bottelary Hills)
Daisy family: Hairy Boneseed Osteospermum hirsutum (1800s; urbanisation)
Heath family – six species:
Kraaifontein Heath Erica bolusiae var. cyathiformis (1970s; urbanisation of northern suburbs; in cultivation at Kirstenbosch);
Showy Heath Erica turgida (1970s; housing at Kenilworth; in cultivation at Kirstenbosch and reintroduced to Kenilworth, Rondevlei and Tokai);
Whorl Heath Erica verticillata (1950s; flower picking and wetland destruction; in cultivation and reintroduced to Rondevlei, Kenilworth and Tokai);
Alexander’s Heath Erica alexandri subsp. acockii (1940s; urbanisation of Kraaifontein);
Steenbras Heath Erica foliacea subsp. fulgens (1890s; pine plantations); and
Pyramid Heath Erica pyramidalis (1950s; urbanisation of southern suburbs).
Pea family – two species: Cape Flats Gorse Aspalathus variegata (1890s; urbanisation of southern suburbs); and
Grass Mountain Pea Liparia graminifolia (1820s; urbanisation of Mowbray).
Protea family: Wynberg Conebush Leucadendron grandiflorum (1800s; vineyards at Wynberg)
Reed family: Table Mountain Window Reed Willdenowia affinis (1910s; pine plantations at Kloof Corner)
Sedge family: Green-and-red Isolepis Isolepis bulbifera (1950s; urbanisation of southern suburbs)
Snapdragon family: Peninsula Snapdragon Nemesia micrantha (date and cause of extinction unknown)

Velvetworm: Lion Velvetworm Peripatopsis leonina (1950s; Signal Hill; cause of extinction unknown)

Other threatened taxa:

Apart from plants which have a whopping 85 species in immediate danger of extinction, other groups with Critically Endangered species include amphibians (Table Mountain Ghost Frog and Micro Frog), reptiles (Geometric Tortoise) and butterflies (Dicksons Monkey Blue Lepidochrysops methymna dicksoni; these have not been seen for 40 years in Tygerberg).
Some species are precariously close to extinction: the Kraaifontein Spiderhead Serruria furcellata exists as only a single plant on the commonage. Such ‘living dead’ species are as good as extinct, unless rescued by conservation authorities.


Urbanization is the largest threat to the plants and animals in Cape Town. Historically, cultivation was the main cause of species loss (mainly wheat in the Renosterveld, and pines and vines in Granite Fynbos). Currently, the second-greatest threat is invasive alien plants (such as wattles, pines, hakeas and gums). There are many other threats, such as fire, grazing, picking, climate change and dumping. However, these threats are minor compared to the big three, which result in habitat transformation. Through this transformation, natural ecosystem processes become compromised, with fire ecology changing, water tables being abstracted, wetlands destroyed, and water, soils and air polluted.

Is there any hope?

Of course there is, but not if we continue in the same old way. We have to deal with disasters happening in our own backyards (tropical forests and coral reefs, notwithstanding), and take responsibility for the amazing plants and animals that live in Cape Town. Urban sprawl must be converted to densification. We need nature reserves that are big enough and properly managed.
Natural fire regimes must be maintained in nature reserves.
Threatened species must be rescued from extinction. This rescue must be done locally in nature reserves – species cannot just be moved somewhere else, as many occur in specialised niches, which do not occur elsewhere, and must be conserved for the species to survive. There is still time to prevent the situation from getting much worse, but we have to act now. It is estimated that we have ten years before the situation becomes hopeless. We need to do something immediately, and you can help.

As can be seen the most Extinct, Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable species within the city occur in the southern and northern suburbs in what used to be Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, followed by Renosterveld (which was converted to wheatlands and vineyards). Note that the Sandstone Fynbos of the Cape Peninsula also has lots of species, and most of these are threatened by invasive alien plants and inappropriate fire management. The
ecosystems most affected by extinction are the Renosterveld types, as their large herds of game (hartebeest, zebra, eland, ostrich and rhinos) were shot out by the 18th century, resulting in a change from a grassland to a shrubland, followed by a large-scale conversion to wheatland in the 20th century. Although the large mammals are local extinctions, their loss has contributed to the threats affecting local Renosterveld species, which are now globally threatened with extinction.


An extinct species is lost forever. Many species have cultural, medicinal and aesthetic value, and many support many other species, such as parasites, predators and symbionts. Some species are keystone species, and maintain entire food webs. Lastly, species have a right to exist, just as much as we have a right to exist – this is called ‘intrinsic value’. Species that occur nowhere else on earth have a right to exist in their habitat in Cape Town! Capetonians have a responsibility to conserve their unique natural heritage.

What you can do:

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Millennium Seed Bank have a plant rescue programme which saves plants, bulks them up, and reintroduces them into the wild. The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) monitors rare species, so that we know when we need to act. Many nature reserves have Friends groups, who help with reserve management and maintenance. Some groups focus on certain species, such as
those that prevent road deaths of the Western Leopard Toad during its spring breeding season, when thousands of toads migrate to and from their mating pools. Join these groups, and help to conserve our wild life.

Extracted from
Get your poster here:

Threatened Species


Critically Endangered (CR)

Afrolimon purpuratum CR
Aristea ericifolia erecta CR
Arctotheca forbesiana CR
Aspalathus aculeata CR
Aspalathus horizontalis CR
Aspalathus rycroftii CR
Babiana leipoldtii CR
Babiana regia CR
Babiana secunda CR
Cadiscus aquaticus CR
Cephalophyllum parviflorum CR
Chrysocoma esterhuyseniae CR
Cliffortia acockii CR
Cotula myriophylloides CR
Cyclopia latifolia CR
Diastella proteoides CR
Disa barbata CR
Disa nubigena CR
Disa physodes CR
Disa sabulosa CR
Erica abietina diabolis CR
Erica bolusiae bolusiae CR
Erica heleogena CR
Erica malmesburiensis CR
Erica margaritacea CR
Erica ribisaria CR
Erica sociorum CR
Erica ustulescens CR
Erica vallis ‐aranearum CR
Geissorhiza eurystigma CR
Geissorhiza malmesburiensis CR
Geissorhiza purpurascens CR
Gladiolus aureus CR
Gladiolus griseus CR
Hermannia procumbens procumbens CR
Holothrix longicornu CR
Ixia versicolor CR
Lachenalia arbuthnotiae CR
Lachenalia purpureo ‐caerulea CR
Lampranthus tenuifolius CR
Leucadendron floridum CR
Leucadendron lanigerum laevigatum CR
Leucadendron levisanus CR
Leucadendron macowanii CR
Leucadendron stellare CR
Leucadendron thymifolium CR
Leucadendron verticillatum CR
Marasmodes oligocephala CR
Marasmodes polycephala CR
Metalasia distans CR
Mimetes hottentoticus CR
Moraea angulata CR
Moraea aristata CR
Muraltia satureioides salteri CR
Oxalis natans CR
Podalyria microphylla CR
Polycarena silenoides CR
Protea odorata CR
Psoralea glaucina CR
Restio acockii CR
Serruria aemula CR
Serruria furcellata CR
Serruria hirsuta CR
Serruria trilopha CR
Watsonia amabilis CR
Watsonia humilis CR

Data deficient (DD)

Antimima concinna DD
Arctotis angustifolia DD
Cliffortia cymbifolia DD
Cliffortia reticulata DD
Drimia minor DD
Erica velitaris velitaris DD
Gnidia parvula DD
Lampranthus calcaratus DD
Limonium scabrum corymbulosum DD
Lotononis perplexa DD
Ruschia umbellata DD
Senecio coleophyllus DD
Staavia dregeana DD
Thesium repandum DD

Endangered (EN)

Agathosma corymbosa EN
Agathosma glabrata EN
Agathosma latipetala EN
Arctopus dregei EN
Argyrolobium velutinum EN
Aristea lugens EN
Aspalathus varians EN
Athanasia capitata EN
Athanasia crenata EN
Babiana odorata EN
Cliffortia ericifolia EN
Cliffortia hirta EN
Cliffortia marginata EN
Echiostachys spicatus EN
Elegia acockii EN
Erepsia hallii EN
Erica caterviflora caterviflora EN
Erica cyrilliflora EN
Erica ferrea EN
Erica patersonii EN
Geissorhiza radians EN
Gethyllis kaapensis EN
Gladiolus jonquilliodorus EN
Gladiolus quadrangulus EN
Gladiolus vigilans EN
Hessea cinnamomea EN
Ischyrolepis sabulosa EN
Ixia maculata fuscocitrina EN
Ixia tenuifolia EN
Lachenalia liliflora EN
Lampranthus aureus EN
Lampranthus dilutus EN
Lampranthus explanatus EN
Lampranthus leptaleon EN
Lampranthus scaber EN
Lampranthus stenus EN
Leucadendron argenteum EN
Leucadendron lanigerum lanigerum EN
Leucospermum cordatum EN
Leucospermum grandiflorum EN
Leucospermum gueinzii EN
Leucospermum parile EN
Limonium depauperatum EN
Liparia laevigata EN
Lobostemon hottentoticus EN
Macrostylis cassiopoides cassiopoides EN
Macrostylis cassiopoides dregeana EN
Macrostylis villosa villosa EN
Marasmodes dummeri EN
Metalasia octoflora EN
Mimetes arboreus EN
Moraea elegans EN
Moraea tricolor EN
Muraltia brevicornu EN
Muraltia decipiens EN
Passerina paludosa EN
Pentaschistis ecklonii EN
Phylica thunbergiana EN
Podalyria argentea EN
Prionanthium pholiuroides EN
Protea stokoei EN
Pterygodium cruciferum EN
Pterygodium inversum EN
Rafnia angulata ericifolia EN
Restio harveyi EN
Restio micans EN
Senecio verbascifolius EN
Serruria brownii EN
Serruria cyanoides EN
Serruria decumbens EN
Serruria incrassata EN
Serruria linearis EN
Sorocephalus clavigerus EN
Sparaxis grandiflora grandiflora EN
Spatalla prolifera EN
Spiloxene minuta EN
Steirodiscus speciosus EN
Stoebe gomphrenoides EN
Stylapterus barbatus EN
Tritoniopsis elongata EN
Tritoniopsis flexuosa EN
Xiphotheca lanceolata EN
Xiphotheca reflexa EN

Extinct (EX / EW – Extinct in wild)

Babiana blanda EW
Erica bolusiae cyathiformis EW
Erica turgida EW
Erica verticillata EW
Erica alexandri acockii EX
Nemesia micrantha EX

Near Threatened (NT)

Babiana angustifolia NT
Chondropetalum rectum NT
Diastella thymelaeoides thymela
Leucospermum bolusii NT
Leucospermum conocarpodendron viridum NT
Moraea villosa villosa NT
Muraltia trinervia NT
Nemesia strumosa NT
Otholobium bolusii NT
Paranomus sceptrum‐gustavianus NT
Paranomus spicatus NT
Pentaschistis aspera NT
Podalyria sericea NT
Protea lepidocarpodendron NT
Protea lorea NT
Protea scabra NT
Satyrium carneum NT
Serruria adscendens NT
Serruria elongata NT
Serruria rubricaulis NT
Spatalla longifolia NT
Spatalla racemosa NT
Thamnochortus fraternus NT
Thamnochortus punctatus NT

Vulnerable (VU)

Aloe commixta VU
Antimima aristulata VU
Aspalathus acanthophylla VU
Babiana villosula VU
Calopsis impolita VU
Cotula duckittiae VU
Cotula paradoxa VU
Diosma dichotoma VU
Drosanthemum hispifolium VU
Drosanthemum striatum VU
Echiostachys incanus VU
Elegia fenestrata VU
Elegia prominens VU
Elegia verreauxii VU
Erepsia patula VU
Erepsia ramosa VU
Erica capitata VU
Euchaetis schlechteri VU
Euphorbia marlothiana VU
Geissorhiza humilis VU
Geissorhiza purpureolutea VU
Gladiolus recurvus VU
Gnidia spicata VU
Helichrysum dunense VU
Hermannia rugosa VU
Ischyrolepis duthieae VU
Ixia curta VU
Lachenalia orthopetala VU
Lachnaea capitata VU
Lampranthus bicolor VU
Lampranthus filicaulis VU
Lampranthus glaucus VU
Lampranthus peacockiae VU
Lampranthus reptans VU
Lampranthus sociorum VU
Leucadendron coniferum VU
Leucadendron corymbosum VU
Leucadendron linifolium VU
Leucospermum conocarpodendron conocarpodron VU
Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron canaliculatum VU
Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron hypophyllocarpodendron VU
Leucospermum rodolentum VU
Leucospermum tomentosum VU
Lobostemon capitatus VU
Lotononis prostrata VU
Metalasia capitata VU
Mimetes hirtus VU
Moraea elsiae VU
Muraltia macropetala VU
Pentameris longiglumis longiglumis VU
Polyxena corymbosa VU
Protea longifolia VU
Protea scolymocephala VU
Satyrium foliosum VU
Serruria decipiens VU
Serruria glomerata VU
Serruria inconspicua VU
Serruria krausii VU
Steirodiscus tagetes VU

Vulnerable (VU D2 ‐ single small population)

Acmadenia nivea VU D2
Agathosma pulchella VU D2
Amphithalea ericifolia scoparia VU D2
Aspalathus borboniifolia VU D2
Dimorphotheca walliana VU D2
Erica annectens VU D2
Erica fairii VU D2
Erica limosa VU D2   Erica marifolia VU D2
Erica nana VU D2
Erica paludicola VU D2
Erica pilulifera VU D2
Euryops pectinatus lobulatus VU D2
Liparia parva VU D2
Liparia splendens splendens VU D2
Moraea villosa elandsmontana VU D2
Muraltia comptonii VU D2
Muraltia guthriei VU D2
Muraltia orbicularis VU D2
Roella goodiana VU D2
Serruria collina collina VU D2
Tetraria graminifolia VU D2
Thamnochortus nutans VU D2
Trianoptiles solitaria VU D2  


Critically Endangered (CR)

Heleophryne rosei Table Mountain Ghost Frog CR
Kedestis barbarae bunta Barber's Ranger CR  
Microbatrachella capensis Micro Frog CR

Endangered (EN)

Amietophrynus pantherinus Western Leopard Toad EN
Kedestes lenis Unique Ranger EN
Lepidochrysops methymna dicksoni Dicksons Dark Opal EN  
Mystromys albicaudatus Whitetailed Mouse EN
Psammobates geometricus Geometric Tortoise EN
Trimenia malagrida malagrida Lions Head Copper EN
Xenopus gilli Cape Platanna EN

Extinct (EX)

Pseudobarbus sp Eerste River Redfin EX
Galaxias zebratus? Diep River Galaxias? EX

Vulnerable (VU)

Anthropoides paradiseus Blue Crane  VU
Breviceps gibbosus Cape Rain Frog VU
Cacosternum capense Cape Caco VU
Capensibufo rosei Rose's Mountain Toad VU
Chrysoritis dicksoni Dicksons Strandveld Copper VU  
Circus ranivorus African Marsh Harrier VU
Damaliscus pygargus pygargus Bontebok VU
Equus zebra Cape Mountain Zebra VU
Eremitalpa granti Grant's Golden Mole VU
Polemaetus bellicosus Martial Eagle VU
Pseudocordylus nebulosus Dwarf Crag Lizard VU
Sarothrura affinis Striped Flufftail  VU
Spheniscus demersus African (Jackass) Penguin VU

Posted on June 12, 2018 11:22 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo | 0 comments | Leave a comment