“Frog Fair” in Vittel: Fast Food, Fast Extinction

17 Apr 2023

Biodiversity damage and animal suffering on the menu of the largest frogs’ legs meal in the world

Paris / Munich / April 17, 2023 – During the “Frog Fair” in Vittel in the Vosges region of France, which will take place this year on 22 and 23 April, about seven tonnes of frog legs are consumed in just two days by some 20,000 visitors. “For this event alone, up to 350,000 frogs are caught, especially in Indonesia and Turkey, where frog populations are already in alarming decline,” reports Charlotte Nithart of the French organisation Robin des Bois. And Dr Sandra Altherr from the German organisation Pro Wildlife adds: “Do the visitors know that for their snacks, frogs are amputated alive on the other side of the world?”

This fair, which claims to be a celebration of French gastronomy, is in fact a trade fair, where frogs are a cheap mass-commodity mostly imported from Asia. The “Frog Fair” will be officially opened by a parade of the “Confrérie des Tastes-cuisses de Grenouilles de Vittel” (“Brotherhood of the Frog Legs-Tasting of Vittel”), which admits on its website: “Whatever its origin, the frog leg has no taste in itself. It’s all in the seasoning”.

The crab-eating frog (Fejervarya cancrivora) will be one of the guest stars at Vittel.
© Ganjar Cahyadi

France is the biggest consumer of frogs’ legs

According to a study by Pro Wildlife and Robin des Bois, the European Union imports an average of 4070 tonnes of frogs’ legs each year – the equivalent of 80 to 200 million frogs, depending on their size.

“Our analysis showed that France imports a total of more than 3000 tonnes annually – 80% of which comes from Indonesia, 13% from Vietnam, 3.4% from Turkey and just under 1% from Albania,” Nithart reports. “European rules concerning consumer information on the species sold and the country of origin are often flouted.”

“It’s absurd: the frogs that occur in nature here in Europe are protected under EU law. But the EU still tolerates the collection of millions of animals in other countries – even if this threatens the frog populations there. This is not at all in line with the EU’s recent biodiversity strategy.” criticises Altherr.

Demand in Europe causes deadly domino effect

In the 1960s to 1980s, India and Bangladesh were the EU’s suppliers of frog legs. But frog populations collapsed in these countries, leading to mosquito plagues, pest damage to crops and increased pesticide use. Both countries pulled the emergency brake at the end of the 1980s with an export ban.

Since then, Indonesia has taken over the role of the most important supplier: Three-quarters of the frogs’ legs currently imported by the EU come from Indonesia, where the frogs are still captured in the wild. Populations of the larger species are being decimated one by one. The species once frequently traded because of its large legs, the Java frog (Limnonectes macrodon), has already disappeared from the trade years ago.

Two years ago, Turkish researchers sounded the alarm that larger frog species could already be extinct in their country by 2030 if hunting for the frog leg market continues at current levels. In Albania, too, the first frog species are already under threat, too.

Pro Wildlife and Robin des Bois call for a stop to EU imports: “In the EU, such a nature looting coupled with such cruel killing methods would not be allowed, so the logical consequence must be to stop imports.”

Further information:
Report “Deadly Dish – role and responsibility of the European Union in the international frogs’ legs trade” (June 2022, pdf, English): https://robindesbois.org/wp-content/uploads/FROGS-LEGS-report-16-June-2022.pdf
EU responsible for extinction domino effect on frog populations (press release on the report, June 2022, English): https://robindesbois.org/en/lunion-europeenne-responsable-de-lextinction-en-cascade-des-populations-de-grenouilles/ (or Pro Wildlife website)
Background to the “Frog Festival” in Vittel (in German): https://www.prowildlife.de/aktuelles/kommentar/froschschenkel-statt-currywurst/
Study from Turkey (2020): https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/unsustainable-harvest-of-water-frogs-in-southern-turkey-for-the-european-market/5DCFB7A02E81FE030C2A7198FDBE74A9

About Pro Wildlife
Pro Wildlife is a non-profit organisation working to protect wildlife and their habitats worldwide. Our goal is to preserve biodiversity and save animals. In doing so, we care about the survival of species in their habitats, but also about the protection of individual animals. We campaign for better laws and effective protection measures for wildlife. In various countries, we support aid projects for animals in need, help to preserve habitats and advocate for the coexistence of humans and wildlife.

About Robin des Bois
Robin des Bois is a non-profit NGO founded in 1985. It’s objective is the protection of Man and the Environment through all means of non-violent actions. Robin des Bois carries out field investigations and regularly participates in a dozen institutional consultation groups and international conventions. Since 1988, it was granted observer status at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Since 2013, Robin des Bois has published an information and analysis bulletin on animal poaching and smuggling (“A la Trace” in French, “On the Trail” in English), a useful tool for institutions and NGOs fighting wildlife crime around the world.




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