Frogs are cool! Our inaugural Frog Hike was a huge success

Our inaugural Frog Hike at Intaka Island took place on 20 March 2024 and was a huge success with 40 frog enthusiasts who joined us on this very special expedition.

We owe a huge thank you to Blouvlei Committee member, Stuard Hall, who connected us with Jessica Myburgh, a passionate nature lover and “generalist” as she calls herself. Jessica has a broad knowledge on all things frog and impressed our guests with interesting facts about the species we found.

We had the privilege to examine the species in our viewing trays and learnt about the calls and special features each frog has.

Did you know that there are people who love frogs so much that they spend their entire lives studying them? Dr Jodi Rowley is the Curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology, at the Australian Museum Research Institute, Australian Museum & Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW Sydney. She says about the ecological role of frogs:

“The importance of frogs and amphibians in the natural world cannot be underestimated and throughout their life cycle they play a significant role in the food chain as both predator and prey.”

“Tadpoles feed on algae, helping keep our waterways clean, and they also compete with mosquito larvae; while frogs eat tonnes – literally, in many places – of invertebrates, including pest species. Adult frogs are also food for a huge number of mammals, birds and reptiles. In places where we’ve lost amphibians, we immediately notice the ecosystem-level effects: other animals starving to death and water courses clogging up etc. Nothing really steps up to fill the role of frogs.”

Dr. Rowley says that frogs are also an indicator species which means they are a go-to for scientists wanting to find out more about the environmental health of a particular ecosystem. Because they have permeable skin, they are very sensitive to pollutants, and because they can live on both land and in the water, they are a good indicator of the health of these two different environments.

Here are some frog species that may occur at Intaka Island or the Century City precinct:

Sand Toad | Vandijkophrynus angusticeps                                  

Rose’s Rain | Breviceps rose

Common Platanna |  Xenopus laevis                                 

Flat Caco | Cacosternum platys             

Cape River Frog | Amietia fuscigula                

Clicking Stream Frog | Strongylopus grayii          

Cape Sand Frog | Tomopterna delalandii                                   

Painted Reed Frog | Hyperolius marmoratus

Intaka Island has about three known common species and we were lucky enough to spot all three, the Painted Reed Frog, Clicking Stream Frog and the Cape River Frog, as well as a bonus sighting of the Common Platanna.

Did you know that the Common Platanna or the African clawed frog, as it’s better known today, was imported around the world for its use in pregnancy tests. Doctors shipped urine samples to frog labs, where technicians would inject female frogs with urine into their hind leg. The animals would be placed back into their tanks, and in the morning, they would check for tell-tale frog eggs in the water. If the female frog had ovulated, that meant the woman who provided the urine was pregnant. It was said that this test was close to 100% accurate. And 100% interesting indeed.

The images are all photographed by Jessica Myburg.

 See you all at our next nature walk!

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