Western Leopard Toad Monitoring.

Western Leopard Toad (Sclerophrys pantherina) Monitoring.

Purpose: To collect images that can be used as a fingerprint to recognise individual WLT and model population trends.

The WLT Management Committee oversees the training and management of the volunteers who help with preventing carnage on Cape Town roads during the breeding season of the Western Leopard Toad in spring every year.

This project collects that data tagged as suitable for fingerprinting to track individual toads.
Ideally observations should be:

  • a clear view of the back.
  • the toad taking up most of the picture, but eyes and bum clearly visible.
  • the toad upright (i.e. the head up - north)
  • no dirt or plant material obscuring the back
  • good contrast and in focus

Please add the following data

  • sex-age (male, female, juvenile, etc.)
  • animal state (live, dead)
  • female state (in berry, empty)
  • movement direction (to ponds, away from ponds)

We hope to have an app to facilitate this soon.


The Western Leopard Toad lives in Cape Town and the Agulhas Plain. As such it shares its home with millions of Capetonians. As toads go, it is larger than most and exquisitely marked. It happily co-exists with humans in the suburbs, and would be just another beautiful inhabitant of Cape Town if it were not for the fact that it is an explosive breeder!

Every year, for a few days usually in August, toady goes a courting. This is unusual in that it is confined to less than a week a year. Thousands of toads migrate to suitable ponds. There the males snore and fight for the females. The females lay their eggs and depart, migrating back to their gardens. The exhausted males follow later when no more females arrive at the pools.
Again, this would be perfectly natural were it not for the fact that we have built roads and highways all around their breeding ponds.

And so every year there is a problem that potentially thousands of toads end up pancaked on our roads
Fortunately, there are volunteers who, every year while toads only have sex their minds, man the roads, rescuing toads, controlling traffic and preventing a blood bath. We need your help to save our toads. The frenzy lasts for only two to five nights a year, but in that time the next generation of toads is created or doomed.

If you would to volunteer and be part of the action please call the Western Leopard Toad hotline number given below and join the ranks of your local toad volunteer group.
Contact the WLT Hotline 082 516 3602

Volunteers also collect indispensible information on breeding times, numbers of toads and breeding sites. This is done while rescuing toads, but you can also contribute out of season: see below. These data are used to determine conservation plans for the following year, to obtain funds, and to update the conservation status of the species. Please help.

We urge motorists to stay alert in all toad areas, especially on roads surrounding breeding sites.
Many thanks to everyone who has helped with the breeding effort over the last few years. Your help saw fewer mortalities than ever before and that is great news for the Western Leopard Toad.

More: http://www.leopardtoad.co.za/

Here is how you can help:

Each toad has a unique pattern on its back which can be used to identify it, rather like a fingerprint. If we can get good images of the backs of all the toads in your area, it will help us in three ways:

  • We can find out where the toad you photograph goes to breed each year by matching the photograph you take with images taken at breeding sites.
  • We can use individual patterns recorded in the photographs as unique marks which can tell us how far the toads travel, especially if the same toad is pictured many times in different places.
  • We can find out how long toads live for, and how many get killed on the roads, and the total population sizes.

Here is what to do:

If you have any toads in your garden, or if you find toads at a friend's house or on a walk:

  • Take a picture of the back of the toad.
    It will need to be in focus, show the whole of the back of the animal from above, and include something for scale (e.g. R5 coin, matchbox, ruler)

  • A useful photograph shows the markings on the back of the toad which may be used for the identification of this individual as well as an indication of size.
    Really groovy mugshots are OK. However, it isn't any help to monitoring as it does not show the markings on its back which are used for identification.

  • You can place several photographs of your observation: please make sure that one is suitable for monitoring, you can put your groovy photos first if you like.

Please make a separate observation for each toad: only one toad per observation!

Make a note of the place where you took the picture. This can be:

  • a street address,
  • a GPS co-ordinate,
  • or you can use the iSpot Googlemap to find your locality

Make a note of the time and date that you took the picture (usually your camera will record this).

Just load it as you would a normal observation, by clicking on "Add an observation" and following instructions. Add this project "WLT Monitoring" if your observation is especially for monitoring.


  • Make sure that your photo shows the whole back of the toad, it is in focus and contains an object such as a coin for scale.
  • Make a note where you took the photograph.
  • Keep a record of the date and time you took the photograph.

You can find out more about this beast at www.leopardtoad.co.za

Using this project:

Use this project in a filter to extract data. In the filter also select by year, by gender, by state (dead or alive) and zoom in to the area that you are interested in.

Posted on 18 October, 2017 12:25 by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo


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