Family Bufonidae

Capensibufo Grandison, 1980

mountain toads, Cape toadlets, Cape toads, bergskurwepaddas (A)

By A.L. de Villiers

Currently accepted name: Capensibufo sp.
Red listing status:


Capensibufo comprises two species, C. rosei and C. tradouwi, that were originally assigned to the genus Bufo (Hewitt 1926a,b). However, Grandison (1980) found them to be only distantly related to Bufo, based on skeletal and other internal morphological differences, and erected the genus Capensibufo to accommodate them. The name Capensibufo is derived from the Latin: capensis = from the Cape of Good Hope (capitus = a head, i.e., a headland); and bufo = a toad.

The adults are relatively small (<40 mm long) and have slightly elongated bodies. The dorsum is smooth with blister-like warts and ridges, and distinctive pear-shaped parotoid glands, whereas the skin of the ventrum and hindlimbs is granular. There is no webbing between the toes. The pupil is horizontal. A tympanum and middle ear elements are present in C. tradouwi, but are absent in C. rosei (Grandison 1980).

The dorsum has brown to black markings on a light grey background. A light vertebral stripe or band and a pair of light dorsolateral bands are usually present, and the parotoid glands and other elevations are red or orange in colour. The ventrum is white to grey, with or without darker markings.


This genus is endemic to the atlas region where it is restricted to the mountains of Western Cape Province, extending marginally into Eastern Cape Province.


The genus inhabits Mountain Fynbos and, to a lesser extent, Grassy Fynbos in the Fynbos Biome. Although it occurs almost exclusively in montane habitats, particularly on mountain tops, it has also been recorded on lower-lying plateaus on the Cape Peninsula.

Life history

The two species appear to be surprisingly well differentiated. For example, C. rosei lacks middle-ear elements and a tympanum and does not appear to call, in contrast to C. tradouwi that does call and has a well-developed ear. Also, C. rosei lays eggs in strings of jelly, while C. tradouwi lays single eggs (Channing 2001). The eggs of both species are laid in shallow pools and develop into small benthic tadpoles with relatively long tails.


Capensibufo habitat falls mostly within protected mountain areas, but C. rosei, endemic to southwestern Western Cape Province, is Vulnerable (Harrison et al. 2001; this publication) due largely to its restricted and fragmented distribution. The genus is legally protected by Nature Conservation Ordinance 19 of 1974 (Grandison 1980).


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Capensibufo Grandison, 1980. Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 07:12:23.
  • Book:
    Minter L.R., Burger M., Harrison J.A., Braack H.H., Bishop P.J. & Kloepfer D. (eds). 2004. Atlas and Red Data book of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series no. 9. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Published by the Smithsonian Institution and the Avian Demography Unit (now Animal Demography Unit).