Gourmets’ fondness for frog legs sounds species’ death knell

SYDNEY - Gourmets who who consume between 200 million and a billion pair of frog legs every year are already sounding the death knell of the species.

Indonesia is the largest exporter of frogs by far and its domestic market is two to seven times that size.

University of Adelaide (U-A) researchers said the global pattern of harvesting and decline of wild frogs appears to be following the same path set by overexploitation of the seas and subsequent ‘chain reaction’ of fisheries collapses around the world.

The researchers have called for mandatory certification of frog harvests to improve monitoring and help the development of sustainable harvest strategies.

UA ecologist and associate professor Corey Bradshaw said frogs legs are not just a French delicacy.

‘Frogs legs are on the menu at school cafeterias in Europe, market stalls and dinner tables across Asia to high end restaurants throughout the world,’ said Bradshaw, also senior scientist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute.

‘Amphibians are already the most threatened animal group yet assessed because of disease, habitat loss and climate change. Man’s massive appetite for their legs is not helping,’ he said, according to a U-A release.

‘The frogs’ legs global market has shifted from seasonal harvest for local consumption to year-round international trade,’ said Bradshaw. ‘But harvesting seems to be following the same pattern for frogs as with marine fisheries - initial local collapses in Europe and North America followed by population declines in India and Bangladesh and now potentially in Indonesia.

The findings are scheduled for publication online in Conservation Biology.


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