Leopard Toads share Clovelly Course with Golfers. Or more accurately, the endangered Western Leopard Toads love the water features the golfers aim to avoid. Bordered almost entirely by Table Mountain National Park, Clovelly Golf Course nestled in the Silvermine Valley is blessed with abundant water features and is visited by a variety of indigenous fauna. The natural setting provides golfers with a tranquil space to pursue their sport away from the hectic pace of city life.
During the height of the Leopard Toad breeding season the golf course is anything but tranquil. While golfers can hear the thrumming calls of male toads from popular ponds, the real action takes place at night. The 2017 breeding season at Clovelly and along the Silvermine River that flows past the golf course, has just started. The males arrive first and in far larger numbers than the females. Although the season is only a few days old, a number of females have already arrived at favourite ponds and paired up to lay eggs.
The strikingly patterned Leopard Toads were once common in the Cape Peninsula. Today they are endangered. Urbanization has replaced or polluted many of their natural habitats and roads are particularly deadly obstacles. In contrast the Clovelly Golf Course has become an increasingly important breeding site.
Without Toads we all croak!
Leopard toads are part of our natural heritage and local biodiversity. Biodiversity is synonymous with having natural capital that provides a range of survival options – not just for toads. While we do not know all the roles they play in Nature, we do know they are natural insect control agents and because of their sensitivity to pollution, toads are important indicators of a healthy eco-system.
Their presence in the plant beds and the water features of the golf course is an eco-stamp of approval for management at Clovelly. Unlike frogs which live in water, toads live on land. Once a year in late winter they migrate from their foraging grounds in gardens and natural veld to breeding ponds to lay eggs. On windless nights the calls of expectant males is as loud as a bikers rally and can be heard throughout much of Clovelly.
Kim Kruyshaar 05 August 2017
Leopard Toad Conservation Co-ordinator for Clovelly
Photo of toads with lily pads by Heidi Straw.