The Endangered Western Leopard Toad Needs Your Help to Survive | Western Cape Government


The Endangered Western Leopard Toad Needs Your Help to Survive

10 August 2009
The Western Leopard Toad (Amietophrynus pantherinus) is an International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-listed, endangered amphibian. It is restricted to a small area of the Cape Peninsula and the southern reaches of the Cape Flats. An isolated and severely fragmented population occurs in the Gansbaai, Stanford and Hermanus region and is largely unprotected.

During the month of August these toads are most active and mobile, as they breed around this time, with the arrival of the first post winter, warm weather.

The toads live in compost heaps; drains and other damp areas of the urban garden and spend much of their year feeding on a variety of prey including crickets, moths and worms. They are rough and dry to the touch and are easily identified by their elaborate leopard markings of chocolate brown patches on a bright yellow background. These markings are symmetrically paired, with a yellow stripe down the backbone. The toads' forehead varies from pink-brown to red and its throat is a granular cream.

During the dry summer months, toads remain dormant in gardens, but forage at night. It is at this time that they build up their food reserves to prepare for the most taxing period of their year, the breeding season.

The breeding season typically falls between late July and early September, during which time each breeding site is actively used for about two weeks at the most. Toads face their biggest threat over this short period, as they are mobile, travelling at night, often crossing over busy roads, to and from the water bodies where they breed.

Due to their nocturnal movements, it is often difficult to spot the toads on wet, dark nights and many succumb to vehicles driven by unobservant motorists.

The species is under severe threat for several reasons including having a small world distribution, fragmentation of populations, destruction and alteration of wetlands and the adverse impact of urban infrastructure like roads, stormwater drains and canals.

Every August, some residents in the breeding areas of these toads make an effort to save migrating toads from vehicles. Current groups are, however, still too small to have a successful impact. To stop the decline in toad numbers more vigilance, sensitivity and compassion is required from motorists when driving through these areas. The species is threatened and its status will soon be revised, increasing it from endangered to critically endangered.

Capetonians are urged to become a volunteer and give up an evening or two in order to lend a hand. Volunteers move toads across roads, record measurements, location information etc and take photographs. Interested persons can contact Mark Day on cell 082 516 3602 or e-mail

This is a fun, exciting activity for families and friends and enables them to contribute towards saving this beautiful toad from extinction.

More information on the toad is available on the endangered Western Cape Leopard Toad website.

Issued by:
Communication Department
City of Cape Town

Media Enquiries: 

Mark Day
Cell: 082 516 3602