The Wildlife and Transport Programme is really excited to announce their first project that will examine ways of how to mitigate against roads – and reduce roadkill numbers. In collaboration with the EWT’s ‘Threatened Amphibian Programme’ (TAP) and Toad NUTS (Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers), the project will be running in Noordhoek in the Western Cape….. specifically to conserve the Western Leopard Toad (WLT) (Amietophrynus pantherinus). This is a coastal species with its natural habitat originally extending from Hermanus to Melkbosstrand along the Western Cape coastline. In the past ten years their numbers have declined dramatically.
The WLT is listed on the Red Data list as ‘endangered in the wild. There are several reasons for this, but the most critical one is road kill. The WLT migrates every year to the nearest suitable pond during the months of July–September to breed. Most of these ponds are found in low-lying areas and are surrounded by roads. Toads can be extremely difficult to see on rainy nights and high levels of road kill have been recorded, particularly on some of the very busy Noordhoek roads.
Since 2007, volunteers have worked tirelessly to save this species in Noordhoek, Sun Valley, Kommetjie. This highly dedicated team of volunteers is supported by the WLT-CC (Western Leopard Toad Conservation Committee). Since the project’s inception, the Noordhoek toad patrols (all roads) have recorded a 23 % average road kill rate. This figure includes two years of patrols on Noordhoek Main Rd where a 29 % average road kill rate has been recorded. Patrols along Noordhoek Main Rd only began in 2011 due to the dangerous nature of this road and the lack of volunteers willing to patrol it.
The Toad NUTS will be erecting a shade-cloth and latte pole barrier that runs along the road reserve of roughly 500 m of Noordhoek Main Rd (both sides), with the aim being to reduce roadkill rates. The poles and shade cloth will be placed at a 45° angle, which will prevent the toads from climbing the fence. They will thus not run the risk of reaching the road. Open buckets will then be buried at regular intervals along the fence and emptied by volunteers throughout the peak hour traffic (18h30-22h30).
Once the traffic has slowed down each evening, the buckets will be sealed, allowing toads to walk the fence until the end and to cross at ‘safer’ points.
A similar project will also be starting in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), an already identified hotspot area of the country for not just amphibians, but for reptiles and small mammals. The EWT are excited by both these two ground-breaking projects and look forward to sharing their findings with you at a later stage.