Western Leopard Toads about to get their annual hop on! (or, why did the toad cross the road?)

22 July 2014

leopard-toad-2Today I had the privilege of meeting up with Alison Faraday of the community organisation TOAD NUTS (Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers) – a group of people who freely give up their time – at night – to seek out and shepherd Leopard Toads across dangerous highways in the Noordhoek/Kommetjie area of Cape Town.  The adult toads are about to make their annual migration to their breeding ponds – enduring not only the hazards of roads and cars, but also dodgy water quality and the threat of their young being eaten by alien carp that dominate and decimate the pond environments.  The toad is endangered and groups such as TOAD NUTS perform a laudable and selfless function to offset the impact of urbanisation on this amphibian. Read more »

Chemical pollution threatens Europe’s freshwaters

3 July 2014

Chemical works on Thames estuary. Image: Peter Scrimshaw | Creative Commons LicenceChemical works on Thames estuary. Image: Peter Scrimshaw | Creative Commons Licence

Chemical pollution threatens the health of almost half of all European freshwaters, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  Researchers from German, French and Swiss universities used data from 4,000 monitoring sites across Europe to calculate the first continental scale ‘risk assessment’ of the impact of toxic organic chemicals on freshwater ecosystems. Read more »

R25 million spent to quietly drain a wetland

1 July 2014

Balamhlanga Vlei (Source: GoogleEarth).

Balamhlanga Vlei (Source: GoogleEarth).

The Balamhlanga Pan (Latitude: 27.4S / Longitude: 32.2E), a vlei-wetland northeast of Mkuze in KZN, adjacent to the Pongola River, has been curiously drained – or is in the process of being drained.  I say ‘curiously’ as the scarce information available about this incident does not suggest that approvals were granted for this apparent environmental injustice. A 16 June 2014 report on the website of the KZN Agricultural Union notes the concerns raised by the SA Wetland Society and others, follows a report on the incident published in Rapport of 14 June.  Yesterday (June 30th), Beeld and The Witness carried similar copy on the matter. Read more »