Leopard Toad Breeding Season Stops Cleaning

A huge pile of biomass to be removed lay at the water’s edge but had yet to be recovered by Cape Town at Little Princess Vlei. PHOTO: Natasha Bezuidenhout

The cleanup of Little Princess Vlei has stopped, leaving piles of biomass removed from the vlei that have yet to be collected, as the Western Leopard Toad breeding season is in full swing.

Cape Town city officials have been wondering how to safely dispose of waste without breaching legislation prohibiting disturbance or work within 500m of the water’s edge during the leopard toad’s breeding season.

According to resident Lynn Arendse, every year the leopard toad migrates to Little Princess Vlei between August and November, which the city is well aware of.

“Saturday morning, August 20, city crews arrived to remove the litter but were stopped by another city department due to leopard toad breeding season.”

Arendse, a resident who has lived in the area for more than 20 years, said residents asked the city when they were going to cut and remove the biomass long before the leopard toad’s breeding season started.

“We have so many beautiful wildlife in the area that we recently saw an otter in the vlei. We just need municipal departments to work together and tell us what can be done.

“If it’s not removed it will start to smell, there will be a lot of mosquitoes and they will have to wait until after the toad breeding season which is in January.”

Litter and biomass cannot be removed at Little Princess Vlei because the breeding season of the endangered Western Leopard Toad has started. PHOTO: Natasha Bezuidenhout

A cleanup of Little Princess Vlei has been halted due to the endangered Western Leopard Toad’s breeding season. PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout

The biomass removed from Little Princess Vlei may need to remain undisturbed for months due to the Western Leopard Toad breeding season. PHOTO: natasha bezuidenhout

According to Zahid Badroodien, the city’s Mayco member for water and sanitation, the department used an external facility rental tender for the cleanups that expired on Saturday, April 2.

“After the tender expired, the department had difficulty finding capable machines in the city’s fleet until July, which led to the late start of cleaning at Little Princess Vlei.

“Currently, the department is investigating the possibility of using Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) crews to remove the material instead of a large machine. This will result in the removal of the material before January 2023.”

At a meeting with city officials on Wednesday, August 24, the department discussed possible solutions for safely disposing of the waste.

“Since our on-site meeting with the sector councillor, we have engaged the biodiversity section for cleaning during the breeding season. We are studying the possibility of using EPWP teams that the biodiversity section must approve.

He added that according to national and provincial legislation (National Environmental Management Law: Biodiversity Law and Nature and Environment Conservation Ordinance), the city has the responsibility to protect the natural heritage and in particular the threatened and protected species.