Leap Day for Frogs is held annually towards the end of Feb to raise awareness around the plight of frogs. This year the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) are trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest game of leapfrog globally.
Let’s take a leap of action and do something to appreciate and protect one of the most threatened group of animals on Earth: frogs! These important creatures are disappearing all over the planet largely because of habitat destruction.
The current record is 1 348 participants at an event in New Zealand, so their target this year is 1 500.
The fun world record attempt will take place at Durban Beachfront Promenade (uShaka) at 10am on February 25th and everyone who cares about frogs are invited to join in.
There are 125 frog species in South Africa, of which a third are threatened by habitat destruction, increasing levels of pollution in freshwater systems, disease and climate change.
The EWT Threatened Amphibian Programme (EEWT-TAP) will use the day towards the protection and conservation of three of our most endangered frog species: Amathole Toad, Pickersgill’s Reed Frog and Western Leopard Toad.
It’s Leap Day for Frogs in the Month of Love, where we celebrate the amphibious, dabble in the amorous, and highlight the challenges that our threatened frogs face.
Apart from having tongues 1/3 the length of their bodies, frogs are also famous for leaping across long distances – up to 20 times their own body length in a single leap!
The South African Cape River Frog holds the world record for Frog Jumping – the longest distance covered in three consecutive jumps – at 10.3 m? Not bad for a 5 cm frog! And if you think about it, February leaps into March, skipping days 29, 30 and 31 except on Leap years, which occur every four years, adding the 29th of February to the calendar. People born on this day are called “Leaplings”.
Fun froggy facts
- There are 7,620 amphibian species (Feb 1, 2017), of which 6,720 are frogs and toads, 695 are newts and salamanders, and 205 are caecilians. New species are discovered every year, and the total number of species continues to grow. Since 1985 the total number of recognized species has increased by over 60%.
- Not all frogs have tadpoles. There are many terrestrial frog species that emerge as froglets directly from the egg, bypassing the tadpole stage altogether. For example, the Bush Squeaker, which occurs in KwaZulu-Natal.
- Amphibians are the oldest land vertebrates. Ichthyostega was an amphibian species that lived in Greenland 362 million years ago.
- South Africa’s smallest frog is also one of its most threatened. The appropriately named Micro Frog, which gets up to a maximum length of 18 mm, is Critically Endangered and known only from 4 localities in the south-western Cape.
- Our largest species is the Giant Bullfrog, which reaches 25 cm and weighs in at 1.4 kg. 80% of this species’ habitat has been lost in urban areas, particularly Gauteng.
- Some species only live a few years, but many live 6 or 7 years. The African Clawed Frog Xenopus laevis can live more than 30 years in captivity.
Arrange a fun froggy event on the 26th of February 2017 with your friends, family, school or colleagues. Click here for ideas.
- 9:30 – Participants arrive
- 9:30-10:00 – Participants are allocated positions
- 10:00-10:10 – Participants take part in the leapfrog game
- 10:15-10:45 – Refreshments, spot prizes and educational packs (per school class attending) are handed out
- 11:00 – Departure
In keeping with Guinness World Record requirements, the event will be marshalled for safety and independently verified.
For more information on this frog-tastic event, please contact Dr Jeanne Tarrant at JeanneT@ewt.org.za or visit www.leapdayforfrogs.org.za.