Honey, isle shrunk the toads: Durban toads shrivel on Mauritius

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Honey, isle shrunk the toads: Durban toads shrivel on Mauritius

Scientists say dwarfism in amphibians in less than 100 years is mind-blowing as it normally takes millennia

Cape Town bureau chief

Mauritius had a big year in 1922. Islanders had their first glimpse of a plane – precursor to thousands of tourist flights - and a ship from Durban brought the guttural toad to the island in an attempt to control cane beetles.

The plane, a World War 1-vintage Avro that arrived in Port Louis by ship, sparked an official warning to residents: “If you are standing and you can hear the motor loudly, lie down in the same place. The noise will be considerably reduced.”

Almost a century later, Mauritius would like nothing more than the noise of planes signalling the end of a Covid-19 pandemic that has wrecked the tourist economy. It is also reeling from the after-effects of a huge oil spill in July and the growing climate change-related threat of tropical storms and flooding...

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