Princess Vlei is a good place for Western Leopard Toads to breed because it is full of natural vegetation and is a very calm and peaceful place…there is enough space and there are lots of water plants where the tadpoles can hide… it is isolated from people… there are flies, butterflies and dragonflies for them to eat…
These were some of the observation of the toad explorers from Harmony, Rosmead and Levana Primary, and Lotus High who came to Princess Vlei on a field trip to investigate what Western Leopard toads need to live well, and to breed. The explorers looked out for insects that the toads might eat, and for plants that would attract insects and give the toads somewhere to hide. They explored the water creatures, including small fish, tadpoles and water beetles. They used nets to catch them and study them briefly before returning them to the water. They made note of threats to the toads, such as predatory birds, plastic pollution, and cars to migrating toads.
A small toad was observed in the biomass which had been piled up by the City next to the outlet canal. This is a concern as the City contractor was due to move the biomass months ago. Moving now poses a threat to the newly emerged toads, as this observation confirms. Other fauna spotted were tadpoles, nymphs of dragonflies and mayflies, various water invertebrates and fish fingerlings.
A highlight of the field trip was the opportunity to explore Princess Vlei by water, thanks to Gravity Adventures who gave the learners a safe but exciting experience of canoeing. A month later, toad explorers from Floreat and Buck Road Primary and Crestway High came to Princess Vlei for the toad experience. A brisk wind whipped up waves on the vlei, making the canoeing especially exciting.
A week after the first field trip, the toad explorers met again at Harmony School Hall, joined by Buck Road Primary. They created their own toads and tadpoles out of clay, and painted habitats for them on paper plates, making sure to include everything the toads and tadpoles need such as water, insects, reeds, and other plants.
Encouraging the learners to explore the vlei from the perspective of a toad, and to later sculpt and create a story around their toads, nurtures their curiosity and creativity. It enables them to look at the world with more than human eyes, and to understand that all living creatures need a safe place to live with food and shelter.
Thanks to Gravity Adventures, the teachers and Harmony Primary School for hosting us, and Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust managed by Nedbank Private Wealth for supporting our educational work.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.