Europe’s hunt for frog legs could drive amphibians to ‘irreversible extinction’, warns new study. Between 2010 and 2019, European Union countries imported 40.7 million kilograms of legs – the equivalent of around two billion frogs. Most of the frogs were purchased from Indonesia, Albania and Turkey. But Europe’s voracious appetite for frogs is decimating native populations in those countries, warns a report published in the journal Nature Conservation. “We call on [exporting] countries and their governments to take responsibility for trade sustainability,” the authors wrote.
Frogs predict earthquakes
In 2010, a study on frogs showed the effects of earthquakes on the animals. The frogs were found to have left the sites… Read more “The EU must take immediate action to target all imports through a single, centralized database and include sensitive species in the annexes to the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation.” In which country is the most frogs’ legs consumed? Frog legs are one of the most famous dishes in French cuisine. According to legend, in the 12th century, monks began eating amphibians, which the church classified as fish, to avoid the strict meatless diet. They are also consumed in other parts of the world, including Vietnam and China.
In the EU, Belgium is the main importer of frog legs (28,430 tonnes between 2010 and 2019), but around three-quarters of these are re-exported to France. France imports 6790 tonnes from non-EU countries (16.6% of EU imports), followed by the Netherlands (2620 tonnes; 6.4%), Italy (1790 tonnes; 4.3%) and Spain (923.4 tonnes; 2.2 %).
What impact does the frog trade have on the environment?
The kitchen has a price. French authorities have banned local commercial frog hunting – with the exception of a period in the 1980s, after the species’ numbers declined dramatically.
Now 80% of Europe’s demand for frogs comes from Indonesia. The crustacean grass frog (Fejervarya cancrivora), the giant Javan frog (Limnonectes macrodon) and the East Asian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus) are vulnerable to potential “overharvesting”, the report warned.
In Turkey, Pelophylax caralitanus, known as the Anatolian frog, is at “high risk of extinction”. “Overexploitation [of this species] for the frog legs trade in France, Italy and Switzerland has caused its rapid decline, so that the species is now considered endangered,” the report warns. The decline has an indirect effect on local ecosystems. Frogs hunt insects. In areas where amphibians are hunted, according to the researchers, the use of toxic pesticides tends to increase.
How can we protect frogs from overexploitation?
In the 1970s and 1980s, India and Bangladesh were the main suppliers of frogs to the EU, but their governments stopped exporting after the local population declined. To ensure the trade remains sustainable, the researchers are calling on frog-exporting countries to regulate the trade more tightly. They also called on the EU to publish more information on trade. Some enterprising Francophile vegans have invented plant-based frog legs made from wheat and soy.
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