WESTERN LEOPARD TOAD – ROADKILL MITIGATION PROJECT

Western-leopard-toad-head-detail

In addition to the proposed study to be conducted in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), the EWT/WTP are collaborating with Toad NUTS (Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers) to implement the same method in Noordhoek, for the Endangered Western Leopard Toad (WLT).

The WLT (Amietophrynus pantherinus) is a coastal species. Its natural habitat used to extend 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 roadkill. 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, in the Western Cape.

A shade-cloth and latte pole barriers run the length on both sides of the road reserve (for approximately 500 m; Figure 1a). To prevent the toads from climbing the fence and reaching the road, the fence is placed at a 45° angle. Open buckets (Figure 1b) have been buried at regular intervals along the fence and are emptied by volunteers throughout the peak hour traffic (18h30-22h30). Once the traffic has slowed down each evening, the buckets are sealed, allowing toads to walk the fence until the end and to cross at ‘safer’ points.

Alisons phone Aug 1338Figure 1a: Shade cloth and latte barriers by the roadside

Alisons phone Aug 1321Figure 1b: Open bucket with WLT waiting to be released

 

RESULTS SO FAR (05/08/2013 – 12/08/2013):

table 1

table 2

table 3

CONCLUSION

Prior to the installation of the toad barrier, WLT road mortality was 23.7%. This decreased to 7.3% after the installation of the barrier. However, the 7.3% mortalities were detected when the barrier had not yet been completed (05/08/2103 and 06/08/2013). Since then, no toad road mortalities have been recorded on the 500 m section of Noordhoek Road.

In addition to these visible results, human-safety of the patrollers has been improved due to less time being spent patrolling the road.

Well done to Alison Faraday and her team for their huge commitment and enthusiasm!

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About wendy collinson

Originally hailing from the UK, Wendy gained her Bachelor of Education in 1990, and spent 15 years teaching Physical Education in London to high school students. She moved to South Africa in 2005, beginning work as a research assistant with large carnivores, working on research projects initiated by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. Wendy’s education background has stood her in good stead as a tour guide, since she believes in an interactive approach, engaging guests in specialist carnivore research tours. In addition to her research and tours, Wendy is also the main organiser of the aptly named “BIKE4BEASTS” mountain bike race, organised annually to raise funds for the Endangered Wildlife Trust (www.bike4beast.coza) Wendy is a field worker with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife and Transport Programme. She recently completed her Master’s degree at Rhodes University, Grahamstown South Africa, which examined the impacts of roads on South African wildlife.
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