A project to monitor frogs in the wetlands on the Hermanus Golf Course was launched in June. The aim of the project was to assess the health of the wetlands on the golf course. Volunteers from the Hermanus community were invited to participate. A number responded and learnt much about the frogs that occur in this area and how to identify them. The project was led by an expert herpetologist, Marius Burger. The monitoring occurred during the dusk hours of one night and continued during the early hours of the next day. Many special hours were spent together recording frog calls, counting how many were heard, looking for frogs and setting traps for platannas which were then released the next morning after their measurements had been recorded.
This information is used to build a database of the frog species, population size and health in the wetlands. This information will be used to relate to pollution events in the area particularly as it affects our most sensitive ecosystems, the wetlands. A chemical treatment like a fertiliser or herbicide will have an effect not only in the wetland but on frog populations in the wetland, particularly tadpoles. Frogs are probably the most threatened of all animals with over 30% of species struggling to survive. Not only do they need to be understood and cared for but they need to be valued as they tell us so much about the health of our environments. Frogs are used as bio-indicators as their naked skins are sensitive to pollution and drying out. If frogs are present in abundance and there are a variety of different species in an area, it is a very healthy sign. When frogs are absent it means that there may be a problem which needs to be investigated further.
With the expertise Whale Coast Conservation has gained by working with an experienced and knowledgeable herpetologist, the Whale Coast Frog Project will be launched in the new year. The idea is to give volunteers the knowledge they need to monitor the frogs in the areas where they live and work with a view to assessing environmental health there.
National Wetlands Week marks the start of the month of February and National Frog Day occurs on 28 February. Thus February is for Frogging and is the time when workshops will be held in Overstrand towns to familiarise volunteers with the work that needs to be done. Whale Coast Conservation also co-ordinates the Eco-Schools programme in the region and learners are particularly encouraged to join. This is an exciting family project to take on. Please register your interest by contacting Sheraine van Wyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 083 484 0202 or 028 314 0000.