Each year more and more animals face extinction. As the endangered list slowly grows, we are forced to picture a world without rhino or cheetah. But we quickly forget about the little folk, such as the Leopard Toad that lives in the Cape Peninsula.
The Western Leopard toad has been leaping into extinction for some now. This slightly larger amphibian has been largely threatened by increased human activity and urban development, which has led to a loss of habitat. They are identified by their brown and yellow patched rough skin. This toad also grows to an impressive 14cm in size and can live up to 13 years old.
Why is the Leopard Toad Endangered?
Most of you may recognise the name of this face from signs stuck on the back of cars calling for caution on rainy days. Otherwise, you may have seen posts on social media about them to draw attention to their dwindling population.
This toad has become dearly loved in the south Western Cape region. Their habitat ranges from Cape Peninsula and Cape Flats to the Agulhas Plain, according to Cape Nature. They live mostly in coastal lowlands, but can also thrive in swamps and forests on the slopes of mountains. The Leopard Toad can also be found in Cape Nature protected areas such as Table Mountain National Park, Zandvlei Nature Reserve and Rondevlei Nature Reserve.
Today the Western Leopard Toad is classified as IUCN Red List as an Endangered species (African Penguin). It faces threats of having a fragmented habitat, traffic and barriers that prevent free movement.
The less friendly Guttural Toad is also threatening the existence of the Leopard Toad. Although these toads are cousins, they are locked in a fierce competition over resources. The Guttural toad is not endemic to the Western Cape and could bring new diseases that can harm the resident amphibian.
Taking a Leap on National Frog Day
National Frog Day took place on 24 February to highlight the “plight of frogs as 29 percent of the 160 endemic frog species in South Africa are critically endangered,” says North Glen News. According to herpetologist at uShaka Marine World, Carl Schloms, frogs are the sign of a healthy environment.
“They provide such a huge food source to a lot of animals – they’re really important. They also eat mosquitoes and flies. It’s about what they provide to the environment,” says Schloms.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust set a goal to make history by breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest game of leapfrog. This took place on 24th February at Durban beachfront promenade (near uShaka Marine World). Unfortunately, the attempt was unsuccessful. But many showed up to share the love for the South African amphibian family.