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3 Feb, 2009 08:58

Who ate all the frogs?

Who ate all the frogs?

Scientists have warned that the growing appetite for frog’s legs may lead to amphibians becoming extinct.

Eating frog’s legs may be a sign of sophistication and a mature palate, but the increasing fashion to consume the French delicacy throughout Europe and Asia has resulted in an alarming drop in numbers.

According to a study undertaken by scientists at the University of Adelaide, the annual global trade in amphibians is currently between 200 million and one billion. Scientists say this level of consumption has led to over 100 species of frogs becoming extinct – a number that could rise to 3,000 in the future.

The study into the welfare of frogs was inaugurated more than four years ago when scientists from all over the world joined forces to compile data on the apparent decline in the global frog population. Bob Johnson, a scientist involved, said the study had given them “a few more answers to our questions about frogs. For example, we think we know which kind of frogs need the most help right now.”

Although increased human consumption is one factor contributing to the decline, the loss of habitat, polluted water and climate change are also aiding the dwindling number of frogs worldwide.

Professor Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide says “frogs are already in a bad way throughout most parts of the world. He says: ”The main driver is certainly habitat loss; so we’re already dealing with a group that’s being hammered and we’re eating up to one billion frogs a year.“

Together with frogs being eaten to extinction, the trend of filling in ponds with concrete is wiping out frogs. Conservationist Andrew Barber from Cheshire has just been involved in a dispute with his local council to stop a pond from being replaced by a car park.

Barber said his family had been coming to the pond to watch the tadpoles and frogs “for three generations.” ”Destroying it would have a detrimental effect on morale of the community, not to mention the ecologic systems," he said.

Professor Bradshaw says people are unaware of the vital role frogs play in almost all eco-systems. He says steps are now needed to prevent what he describes as a “devastating chain-reaction”.

Apart from restaurateurs taking sautéed frog’s legs off the menu and civic planners calling a halt to the urbanization of towns and cities in a bid to save our hopping green friends, the Australian-based team has suggested farming frogs for the specific purpose of human consumption instead of devastating wild populations.

Gabrielle Pickard for RT