Villagers have made it their mission to make sure toads cross the road safely.

Every spring hundreds of toads travel to their breading ponds, but many are killed on the roads.

To help save the common toad from disappearing, volunteers from East Lockinge near Wantage have formed a ‘Toad Patrol’.

The group is helping to carry the toads over the roads as they move towards their breeding ponds following the recent run of milder spring weather.

Patrol Manager Amy Hall said: “Since 2017, when I began managing our Toad Patrol, we have helped toads cross the road over 22,000 times. It is great fun to patrol – we have a wonderful team of patrollers, and you get to see and hear wildlife that you wouldn’t normally see in the daytime.”

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The common toad – a charismatic amphibian with warty skin and waddling gait – is thought to be experiencing declines in the UK, in some cases caused by the effect of road traffic as toads travel slowly back to breeding ponds, often used for generations.

Ms Hall grew up in the village and after seeing toads dead on the road she wanted help save them.

She said: “Toads in particular have a very strong desire to go back to where they spawned. Regardless of the fact there is a road in the way, they are going.”

She added: “We will have hundreds of toads that will get killed each year and that is even when we do go out on patrol.”

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Sally Povolotsky, County Councillor for Hendreds and Harwell is part of the East Lockinge Toad Patrol. She recently helped to install toad signs to warn drivers that the amphibians are in the area.

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Every year the village has gained more patrollers to watch out for the amphibians, but the numbers are still in decline.

Ms Hall said: “We are always keen to welcome more patrollers into our team, and East Lockinge is a great site for families due to the lower volume of traffic compared to some other sites.”

She added: “It is really nice when families join us because it is really nice seeing the kids get closer to nature.”

These local volunteers are part of a national campaign called ‘Toads on Roads’, coordinated by the national wildlife charity Froglife, a national network of volunteer groups concerned with amphibian and reptile conservation.

Over the coming weeks, one thousand volunteers across the country will be gearing up to help toads across roads, in a coordinated effort to help save the animal from further declines.

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