Environment Writer

THE travelling toad from China has been granted a stay of execution.

It is to be given a home in the Montecasino Bird Garden near Johannesburg. The toad that hopped into a container of candlesticks in China, journeyed across the ocean and was found by a customer inside a candlestick in a Claremont store this week, has had the Cape Times facebook page buzzing with debate about its fate.

The SPCA, called in by store staff to rescue the frog, wanted to find it a home here. But CapeNature said the alien could bring diseases into the country and posed a threat to our own wild frogs, and should be put down. It is called the Asian common toad and is a relative of the invasive cane toad which has caused massive problems in Australia. They will eat anything, are highly adaptable, carry parasites and pathogens and the female lays 40 000 eggs in a single clutch.

But some Capetonians felt a critter that had withstood a journey halfway around the world and survived should be given a chance.

Cape Times reader Thomas Boyd said he was willing to pay for the costs of sending the travelling toad back to China. “You can’t let that little sucker be put down. Anything that makes it all the way over here and survives deserves more than a needle. I’ll fund the costs of getting that little dude back to China,” Boyd said.

Activist Zackie Achmat felt

the same: “Send it home.” Debbie Appleton said: “Stop importing from China and send the frog to the snake park and let nature take its (1st) course.”

Brent Abrahams said many alien species had already damaged local biodiversity. “We should rather kill them as much as it may upset animal rights groups and activists.” Evan Davies said the frog should be killed with Asian crows: “There’ll always be some moron who will want to protect invasive aliens. Remember the Tahrs? Glad they’re gone!”

Timothy Whyte saw a conspiracy: “Quarantine it then burn it. It could have been planted on the ship with some virus to wipe out all people who live in Africa so they can come and take our resources.”

Then there was the post by the man who appears to have started it all, Bart Smithers: “This is so funny, I can’t believe it made the Cape Times, I think this is referring to the toad I found in a candlestick in a furniture shop a few days ago... the staff had a small riot... my lady has barely recovered, still can’t look at the pictures I took on her phone...”

Local SPCA spokeswoman Lise-Marie Greeff said sending it back to China was not an option: “Basically it is lunch and dinner there.”

CapeNature had agreed to take it to a sanctuary. But is there not a risk that this well-travelled toad may escape into the wilds of Gauteng? “No, it will be accompanied by Brett our wildlife unit manager and he will personally hand it over.”