Western Leopard Toad Census
In August, 41 enthusiastic volunteers joined the census conducted to count endangered Western Leopard Toad (Bufo patherinus). Eight sites were monitored which included Zandvlei Nature Reserve, Kirstenhof Greenbelt, Westlake Stream and Keysers River confluence. Westlake Wetlands at Rutter Road and Frogmore Estate, Marina da Gama, Die Oog and Louws farm in Bergvliet. Volunteers were grouped, issued information sheets and site lists, previous results sheets maps indicating the areas to be monitored and census recording sheets.
The toads had begun calling in the Nature Reserve, at Rutter Road and Kirstenhof on the 19th August 2004. Between the 19th and 24th the toads in Kirstenhof were quite active moving en masse to Westlake River to breed. The census was conducted on a Wednesday evening 25th August. To our surprise, no toads were seen or heard at all the sites except the two in Bergvliet. An explanation for this would be that the breeding period this year was short(4 or 5 days) and we missed it! The toads are known to breed for four days to two weeks. The number of days vary each year and is not the same at each breeding site. Fortunately for those monitoring Die Oog in Bergvliet a lot of toads were calling. A few were heard at Louws farm, but 169 were counted at Die Oog and many more heard. The toads at Die Oog either began breeding later than those at other sites or did so for longer.
Zandvlei Reserve staff monitored additional sites. The Clovelly Wetland was monitored on the 24th August. ten toads were seen and heard. However many more were heard nights before. The census cannot accurately record population numbers, it records the minimum. The census is rather an attempt to estimate population sizes. In future the census will be conducted over more than one evening, preferably over the entire breeding period. Please do volunteer for the census next year. Thank you to all group leaders and volunteers for a well attempted census.