Frog legs end up on the table as a delicacy in many countries around the world. Eating the animals' extremely tender calf meat is putting several species at risk of extinction. The reason: Most animals are caught in the wild.
Analyzes have shown that the consumption of frog legs in the EU has contributed to the decline in wild frog populations in more and more supplier countries over the past few decades. After India and Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania have also recently been affected, experts report in the journal "Nature Conservation". The countries of the European Union would have to take much more responsibility for the sustainability of trade.
The EU is still by far the largest importer of frogs' legs in the world, with most frogs still being caught in the wild. Between 2010 and 2019, a total of around 40,700 tons of frog legs were imported, reports the team led by Bonn researcher Mark Auliya from the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change. That corresponds to up to two billion frogs. Belgium is the main importer - most frogs' legs are eaten in France.
According to the analysis, which also involved conservation organizations, India and Bangladesh were the EU's main suppliers in the 1970s and 1980s. After a drastic decline in frog populations, both countries stopped exporting. Since then, most of the frogs have come from Indonesia. The population of wild large-legged frog species there - as in Turkey and Albania - has already decreased significantly.
There is still a lack of data on certain aspects such as the impact of trade on the spread of amphibian diseases. "The international trade in frogs' legs is a black box," Auliya said. This also applies to the lack of species-specific trade data and incorrect labeling in trade. In the case of processed, skinned and frozen frog legs, it is difficult to check whether the specified species is actually correct without genetic analysis.
(This article was first published on Tuesday, February 14, 2023.)