Global demand for frogs legs is pushing the poor amphibians towards extinction. Billions of frogs are either captured or raised on farms to be sold as food in markets or restaurants. The international frog trade is helping to spread the chytrid fungus, which may have already killed one hundred million frogs and has already driven some wild species into extinction. “A recent study estimated that 62 percent of the bullfrogs entering California from Asian frog farms are infected with the chytrid fungus. Bullfrogs serve as perfect vectors for fungus, as the frogs can survive infection loads of millions of chytrid zoospores. Because the infected frogs don’t die from the fungus, they are able to spread the pathogen to native amphibian populations.” (Source: IBTimes)
Western Europe is one of the main importers of frogs for personal consumption. They may import two billion each year. Their main suppliers are Indonesia Bangladesh, Malaysia, and India. Frogs in Indonesia may be driven into extinction trying to satisfy the demand in France and Belgium.
Wild frogs play an important role in ecosystems, and help humans because they eat insect pests. Because of the decline in frog populations, now more pesticides are being used. A increase in insect populations can also mean an increase in the spread of diseases such as malaria, and encephalitis because they are spread by insects. A frog can consume its own weight in insects every day. Only about fifty frogs are needed per acre of land to keep it low in insects.
Within the European Union capturing and killing native frogs is not allowed because those populations were decreased too much. “The decline of many frog species is a global problem that is being greatly accelerated by just a handful of European nations,” said a conservationist. (Source: Defenders of Wildlife)
To some, it might seem incomprehensible that humans could eat so many of a species or several species, they could all be wiped out. One species the California red-legged frog, Rana draytonii, was nearly eaten into extinction from commercial demand beginning with the Gold Rush in 1849. Over harvesting for decades reduced their population drastically. Even in 2011 the species is still considered threatened because it hasn’t rebounded to levels that are completely healthy.
Consumers sometimes are not aware of where animals they eat come from, and the destruction that results from international trade.
Image Credit: Carl D. Howe