Croaked it! Appetite for frogs’ legs in France and Belgium is driving the species to extinction
They may be considered a gourmet delicacy, but the demand for frog legs in France and Belgium is endangering frog populations, a new study has warned.
The EU imports about 4,070 tons of frogs’ legs a year – equivalent to between 81 and 200 million frogs – the vast majority of which are caught in the wild.
This increasingly threatens frog populations in supplying countries, including Indonesia, Turkey and Albania, according to German campaign group Pro Wildlife.
In Indonesia, Java frogs (Limnonectes macrodon), which were once widely traded, have now largely disappeared.
Meanwhile, scientists warn that the edible frogs native to Turkey could be extinct by 2032 if the immense captures from the wild continue.
And in Albania, the EU’s fourth largest supplier of frogs’ legs, the Scutari water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus) is now critically endangered.
Pro Wildlife co-founder Dr. Sandra Altherr described it as “a fatal domino effect for the protection of species.”
They may be considered a gourmet delicacy, but the demand for frog legs in France and Belgium is endangering frog populations
In Albania, the Scutari water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus) is now critically endangered
Belgium is technically the world’s largest importer of frogs’ legs, accounting for 70 percent of the EU market, followed by France (17 percent) and the Netherlands (7 percent)
The English feasted on frogs’ legs 8000 years FOR the French
Brits have long regarded the French love of eating frog legs with a mixture of fascination and disgust.
But it seems they weren’t the first to love the delicacy, as archaeologists have discovered fragments of an 8,000-year-old charred toad’s leg a mile away from Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
The remains, which were found next to fish bones at the site, are the earliest evidence of a cooked toad or frog anywhere in the world, scientists say.
Archaeologists unearthed the bone alongside small fish, vertebrate bones from trout or salmon, as well as burnt aurochs bones (the precursors to cows) at the Blick Mead excavation site near Amesbury in 2013.
Belgium is technically the world’s largest importer of frogs’ legs, accounting for 70 percent of the EU market, followed by France (17 percent), the Netherlands (7 percent), Italy (4 percent) and Spain (2 percent). cents).
However, Wildlife’s Pro Deadly dish report shows that the majority of Belgian imports of frogs’ legs were re-exported to other EU Member States.
According to French customs statistics, France imported 30,015 tons of fresh, refrigerated or frozen frogs’ legs between 2010 and 2019, equivalent to 600 to 1.5 million frogs.
Smaller volumes were also imported from the United Kingdom, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Germany.
About 74 percent of EU imports come from Indonesia, 4 percent from Turkey and 0.7 percent from Albania.
In the period 2010-2019, the EU imported more than 30,000 tons of frogs’ legs from Indonesia alone.
Especially large-legged species such as the crab-eating frog (Fejervarya cancrivora) and the East Asian frog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus) are popular with gourmets.
‘In the 1980s, India and Bangladesh initially supplied frogs’ legs to Europe, but Indonesia has been the largest supplier since the 1990s,’ says Dr Altherr.
‘In the Southeast Asian country, just like in Turkey and Albania, the large frog species are disappearing one after the other.’
Pro Wildlife said most frogs’ legs are cut off with an ax or scissors — without anesthetic.
The top half is then taken off to die, while the legs are skinned and frozen for export.
Especially large-legged species such as the crab-eating frog (Fejervarya cancrivora) and the East Asian frog (Hoplobatrachus rugulosus) – pictured – are popular with foodies
Main suppliers, by total weight (left) and share (right) of EU imports of frogs’ legs for the period 2010-2019
According to French customs statistics, France imported 30,015 tons of fresh, refrigerated or frozen frogs’ legs between 2010 and 2019, equivalent to 600 to 1.5 million frogs
While the US also imports large quantities of frogs for consumption, these are mainly commercially bred frogs, while the EU mainly imports wild-caught frogs.
According to Charlotte Nithart, president of the French organization Robin des Bois, the frog trade has direct consequences not only for the frogs themselves, but also for nature conservation.
“Frogs play a central role in the ecosystem as insect killers – and where frogs disappear, the use of toxic pesticides increases,” she says.
Robin des Bois and Pro Wildlife call on the EU to end the overexploitation of frog stocks for the local gourmet market.
They also advocate for international trade restrictions through the CITES Convention on the Conservation of Species.
Amphibians are the most endangered group among vertebrates, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The EU’s Habitats Directive prevents the capture of native wild frogs in member states, but the block does not restrict imports.
IUCN claims that at least 1,200 amphibian species — 17 percent of the total — are traded in the international market.
ARE AMPHIBIANS AT RISK OF EXTERMINATION?
More than 40 percent of the world’s amphibian species, more than a third of marine mammals and nearly a third of sharks and fish are threatened with extinction.
Analysis of the risks facing the roughly 8,000 known amphibian species by the UN and published in the IPBES report found that up to 50 percent are at risk of extinction, a dramatic increase from previous estimates.
The spike stems from the inclusion of about 2,200 species that were previously underrepresented due to a lack of data; now, based on the new models, researchers say at least another 1,000 species are in danger of extinction.
Researchers used a technique called trait-based spatio-phylogenetic statistical framework to assess the extinction risks of data-deficient species.
This combined data on their ecology, geography and evolutionary characteristics with the associated extinction risks of each factor to make a prediction.
Only about 44 percent of amphibians currently have current risk assessments, the team notes.
“We found that with insufficient data, more than 1,000 amphibians are at risk of extinction, and nearly 500 are threatened or critically endangered, mainly in South America and Southeast Asia,” said Pamela González-del-Pliego of the University of Sheffield and Yale. university.
“Urgent conservation actions are needed to prevent the loss of these species.”
According to the researchers, the species most at risk probably include those we know least about, further adding to the complexity of their protection.
A study published earlier this year found that 90 amphibian species have been wiped out thanks to a deadly fungal disease.
It affects frogs, toads and salamanders and has led to a dramatic population collapse of more than 400 species over the past 50 years.
The disease is called chytridiomycosis, which eats the skin of amphibians and threatens to kill more animals.
Native to Asia, it is present in over 60 countries – with the worst affected parts of the world being tropical Australia, Central America and South America.