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Save the frogs

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Wednesday night, after the rain during just two hours of patrolling, Edwel Community Policing Forum patrols found 20 dead frogs on the roads in Eduan Park and Welgelegen. That’s a kill-rate of 10 per hour. One young bullfrog and two Leopard toads were saved.
Andreas Stelzer from Polokwane Frog Watch, an organisation watching and studying frogs, is working on the identification of the frogs. “Some Leopard toads are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. If we have plenty here in Polokwane, that doesn’t mean that they are doing fine elsewhere. The rain has come and frogs and toads are more active: many are killed on the roads, especially in built up areas,” he said.
Frog Watch appeals to everyone to take a few sensible measures to prevent killing these creatures when they are active, generally after it has rained, by reducing speed and, when approaching frogs or toads, aim at them with the centre of the car and pass over them quickly.
“If you have the time and it is safe to do so, get out and push them gently with a foot or hand off the road, in the direction they intended to move,” Stelzer urged and added that motorists should, where possible, avoid driving through shallow puddles where frogs and toads can hide.
“If you encounter a bullfrog, be it the Giant or African species, please save it and put it into some form of box (old shoe boxes have been tried and tested) or a bucket and drop it at the centre of the Polokwane Frog Reserve, opposite Extension 100 in DieMeer Street. This way it may not reach the intended mating spot but it will stay alive and adapt. Samaritans are welcome to drop saved creatures at Frog Watch, but call beforehand: 082 696 3103.”
To get a bullfrog into a box it is advised to use one or both hands, depending on the frog’s size, from behind, thumbs on the back, fingers underneath the body and pick it up.
Stelzer said if people ask themselves why it is important or whether it is worth the time and effort to get out of a vehicle to save a frog, to think about this: “Although South Africa has a fairly wide and unique diversity of frogs and toads, more than 50% of the 115 or so of the frog species occur nowhere else in the world. Owing to the semi-aquatic lifecycle of most species, and their semi-permeable skins, amphibians are especially vulnerable to pollutants and other environmental stresses. Consequently, they can be regarded as useful environmental bio-monitors and may serve as an early-warning alarm system indicating changes in the environment and potential threats to other organisms, including humans. For as long as there are frogs and toads around, all is not lost. Let’s help them to cope with human presence.”

Story: NELIE ERASMUS
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Photo: A Bullfrog can grow very big, and they are very scarce.