The Toads of Silvermine are mostly the famous and endangered Western Leopard Toads (Amietophrynus pantherinus). Find also the rare Arum Lily Frog, the Cape River Frog and the Clicking Stream Frog in this beautiful wetland reserve. Earth Kids went on the hunt for these splendid amphibians last year. They did not find any but they learned a LOT about wetlands, especially the Silvermine catchment.
The Western Leopard Toad lays eggs in August in the still deep waters of Silvermine Wetland. They lay their eggs in gelatinous strings in the water and later hatch out as tadpoles. Tadpoles swim and grow during September and are ready to be toads soon afterwards!
This beautiful South African toad can grow as large as 140 mm in body length! It has the typical rough skin of all toads and a large parotid gland behind each eye. Look out for the dark brown and reddish-brown patches on its back, set on a bright yellow background. The striking yellow stripe runs down the middle of the back. The underside is a creamy colour, the males sporting a darker throat.
Threats to an Important Amphibian
Earth Kids learned just how sad it is that such an important part of the wetland ecosystem and food web is so threatened now by human activities! This toad is only found in a small range of habitat, from the Cape Peninsula, through the Cape Flats to Cape Agulhas, the Agulhas Plain.
The Western leopard toad is threatened throughout most of its range by general development and habitat degradation:
- Loss and breaking up of habitat for human needs – the toads have less area in which to feed and breed which causes fewer toads and isolated pockets of them.
- Road traffic – vehicles kill hundreds of toads every breeding season when they migrate to and from breeding sites.
- Drowning – many toads drown in containers with vertical sides, such as swimming pools and canalized rivers.
- Barriers – walls, embankments and canals restrict the movement of toads.
- Polluted water.
- Exotic fish that prey on toads such as barbel.
- Invasive floating plants and reeds which impact toad breeding habitat.
Walk the Wetland and Mountain Trails
Find the Lower Silvermine Wetlands in Clovelly, between the beach and the golf course. These rehabilitated floodplains feature Hangklip sand fynbos, sand dunes, and aquatic / wetland areas.
Earth Kids discovered that a group of local conservationists restored the wetland to its natural glory. Others had wanted to canalise it to protect houses built too close to its edges. The wetland was there first!
Pack your camera and head to this wetland for a lovely walk. Link your walk into the mountains to the Trappieskop caves and have tea. We love this region for its beautiful wildlife, fynbos and views.
Toadnuts in the Lead
Earth Kids so appreciated being shown around Silvermine Wetland by the passionate and knowledgeable Richelle Steyn from Toadnuts. She broadened their minds with stories of Western Leopard Toads breeding and crossing roads and laying eggs in this stunning habitat.
Richelle reminded the Earth Kids that such a wetland ecosystem is an intricate system of energies, living and non-living things that all need one another! When humans impact such a delicate balance of give and take, things can be ruined forever. But when humans really care about the nature around them, they can fit in and assist in the best ways possible.
What can YOU do to Help the Western Leopard Toads?
So, what can you do? These toads are, after all, endangered and like any other endangered animal, should be protected. This can only happen if people take action. Here’s what you can do:
- Volunteer. It doesn’t matter if you live in a toad area or not. During the migration, volunteers are needed to move these toads out of harm’s way.
- Slow down! If you live in a toad area, slow down when driving around your neighbourhood, particularly at night.
- Keep an eye open. Some of these toads are really big. You can’t help but spot them on the roads, so be aware.
- Tell someone. If you’ve seen any of these toads, visit www.leopardtoad.co.za and register your sighting. Tell your neighbours. Let them know what a privilege it is to have an endangered species living in your neighbourhood, and then tell them how to look after these wonderful creatures.
- Upload your toad. If you find a leopard toad, take a picture of it and upload it to the website.
We build our homes in areas where western leopard toads have always congregated. When toads move between their garden abodes and their breeding sites, hundreds are unnecessarily killed by cars. We can choose for this not to happen. It is up to us.