Good news for nature lovers in the Helderberg! Frog lovers are ready to hop to the next level after the rescue attempt at Paardevlei during March this year.
During our first rains a large colony of platanna froglets hatched at the Paardevlei area near the Somerset Mall and decided to brave the busy R44 to reach the nearest water body at the Sanctuary dam during a mass dispersal event.
Though too many perished, some were saved by a group of residents who carried them across the road, whilst the Traffic Department diverted the traffic in one direction. It was not the first time that frogs came to blows with traffic at this very same spot. Something had to be done.
The frog lovers formed a group to focus on resolving this problem. How to ensure frogs can safely migrate to the nearest water body, which is what their instincts dictate, when a road was built across their path.
Traffic threats to frog habitats
During discussions with local herpetologist, Andre de Villiers it came to light that the first priority is to do a survey of the frogs in the area to determine which species are involved. It could either be the Common Platanna (Xenopus laevis) or the threatened Cape Platanna (Xenopus gilli), or both. There are only 4 Cape Platanna species in the world and it has happened once before that these two species co-habitate. Especially in an area where there are temporary wetlands, as it the case at Paardevlei. Andre plans to trap frogs over 9 nights to determine who lives there and why they need to move across the road.
“One of the major extinction drivers of frog species in the world is the loss of suitable habitats. These reductions in suitable habitats lead to an increase in movement between the ever more scattered populations, which lead to a reduction in survival. Public roads have become a major obstacle for smaller species by not only restricting movement between populations, but also accounting for a high number of fatalities. With the first major rainfall of the rainy season, a large number of anurans (specifically Xenopus spp.) crossed the road from the Paardevlei dam to get to the Sanctuary dam (depicted below). This resulted in a high number of frogs being trampled by cars driving on the road.
I will be determining which species occur in the area, what their threat level is and how likely are they to cross the road in question. Thus this study aims to determine the endangered status of the species that do occur or that are likely to occur in the area and the likelihood that these species will be impacted by the road running through the site,” says Andre.
Contribute to the cost of research
Frog Friends have launched a fundraiser to pay for this research, as well as Frog Crossing boards. The City will then erect the boards at the strategic spot.
“We trust that the people of the Helderberg, who showed great interest in the past, will help us protect our precious frogs. In the meantime we have drawn up a Contingency Plan to divert all the traffic, should a dispersal event happen again, so that frogs can safely migrate across the road. We need to erect frog crossing boards at the intersection between De Beers and Broadway, which also provide the traffic number to call should anyone spot a mass migration starting up. That is when all those enlisted to help will jump into action. Our team needs more active members who are willing to help,” says Elma Pollard.
Costs to cover:
Sign boards: R1863.
Banking details: Account FA de Villiers, savings account number 1472995684 at Capitec bank.
Long term plans are in the pipeline to create a safe crossing for the frogs – either over or under the road – but that involves the road engineers, who are currently investigating possibilities. It will take considerable time and expense, so current initiatives are preliminary groundwork in preparation for the big plans.
Anyone keen to join the Frog Action Team please write to Elma at email@example.com.