The Cape’s two Overberg leopards need you to slow down

Posted by David Henning on 29 July 2022

The Cape Overberg is home to two iconic leopards. One is an actual leopard – and the other is a small endangered amphibian called the western leopard toad.

These animals live in fragmented environments, which means they regularly have to put themselves in danger when traversing their natural environment, which is now mixed with urban landscapes.

Car insurance claims suggest that approximately R82.5 million is paid each year in damages as a result of wildlife-associated vehicle collisions. Many of us are familiar with the unfortunate sight of dead wildlife on the side of the roads.

With this in mind, the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) have launched the ‘Spotted on the Road’ campaign to raise awareness about wildlife on roads in the Overberg, Western Cape.

This campaign is part of the collaborative Tale of Two Leopards project – which focuses on these two iconic species of the Overberg.

Leopard toads regularly find themselves in an urbanised environment and move en-masse during their breeding season from July to September. They are also sighted when juveniles disperse in October. They are especially vulnerable during these times.

Leopards in the Cape have huge home ranges that are intersected by many roads – often highways – and leopards sometimes cross busy roads, especially at night, putting them at risk of collisions with vehicles.

Temporary road closures, wildlife crossings and bridges are means of improving safety for wildlife near roads, but the simplest method is the use of roadside signs to warn motorists and mitigate wildlife-vehicle collisions. Signs installed in areas of high animal activity can help make drivers more aware of wildlife presence and ideally modify driving behaviour.

These signs have been installed at five strategic locations in the Overberg, based on where toad mortality has been recorded and where camera traps have confirmed leopard movement.

The reflective road signs now join the interpretive Tale of Two Leopard’s information signboards to remind residents and travellers of the Overberg region’s amazing biodiversity.

How Can You Help?

• Drive slowly and cautiously, especially at night

• Be on the lookout for animals on the roads

• Don’t swerve, but avoid collisions by reducing speed

• Help a toad cross a road (in the same direction in which it is travelling)

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