Hop to it! Toads on the roads bring traffic to a halt in Richmond

By Jonathan Rose
March 6 2020, 13.00

Who you gonna call? Toad Patrol! Breeding toads are Richmond’s latest woes, as the mating season brings traffic to a halt.

Church Road in Ham will be barricaded with signs reading: ‘Road closed for migrating toads: Toad patrol volunteers on the road’ from March 9 to April 2 to aid their annual escapade.

Hundreds of common, or Bufo bufo, toads will hop their way across Church Road from Ham Common woods, where they have spent the winter, to the pond in Richmond Park.

This means crossing a deadly section of Church Road frequented by the odd Bentley and Aston Martin.

To avoid ending up as French cuisine, The Conservation Volunteers, an environmental conservation charity, have erected a temporary wall which Hadrian would be proud of.

Equipped with official high-visibility vests, Toad Patrollers from Froglife, a British wildlife charity, will work with The Conservation Volunteers to collect, count and release the toads to continue their expedition.

TOAD TRIP: A pair of toads are helped across the road by a volunteer toad patroller Credit: David Kilbey/Froglife

Nonetheless, local conservationists are concerned about the falling toad numbers and declining biodiversity. The rise in deaths has been attributed to the toads’ use of the busy road.

Laurence Jarvis, science and research manager at Froglife, said: “In recent years, the number of common toads migrating across Church Road has significantly dropped, most likely due to car mortality in previous years.”

Martin Elengorn, a councillor and Chair of the Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sport Committee, said: “Our green spaces and lively wildlife habitats are particularly important in the context of the Climate Change Emergency.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure they are sustained.”

With help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Froglife is planning to create additional ponds within the woodland area at Ham Common – it’s safe to say the toads will be much hoppier.

Photo credit: David Kilbey/Froglife

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