Frogs : appeal from more than 550 scientists and veterinarians

6 Mar 2024

Trade in frogs’ legs must be curbed, President Macron!

Paris, Munich, March 6, 2024 – In a joint letter, 557 experts from research, nature conservation and veterinary medicine have called on French President Emmanuel Macron to end the overexploitation of frogs in Asia and Southeast Europe for the EU’s hunger for frogs’ legs. France, as the largest consumer, should initiate the international protection of the most traded frog species through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The letter is an initiative of Robin des Bois, the Veterinarians for Biodiversity (Vétérinaires pour la Biodiversité) and the German organization Pro Wildlife. A similar request was made by 46 NGOs on January 25 to Mr Béchu, the French Minister for Ecological Transition. So far, this letter has gone unanswered. “Are the French doomed to be froggies? It’s time to remember that frogs are also voluntary helpers for farmers.  When they disappear, pests proliferate and the use of pesticides increases” points out Charlotte Nithart, President of Robin des Bois.

France is the largest consumer of frogs’ legs

According to a study by Robin des Bois and Pro Wildlife the European Union imports an average of 4 070 tonnes of frozen frogs’ legs annually, indicating France as the largest consumer with more than 3000 tonnes imported annually. The annual EU imports are equivalent to 80-200 million frogs, with the vast majority sourced from wild populations, in particular from Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. Frogs’ legs are also imported from Vietnam, but these originate from farms that also have a negative impact on the wild frog population.

Frogs’ legs trade is destructive to nature

Recent field studies indicate that several species and populations are already experiencing a significant decline, i.e., current data suggests that the fanged river frog (Limnonectes macrodon) has apparently disappeared from commercial imports to France. Even common species such as the crab-eating frog (Fejervarya cancrivora) and the rice-field frog (Fejervarya limnocharis) are already in decline due to intense commercial harvests and exports for many years. However, frogs play a crucial role in ecosystem function and continuous offtakes disrupt their functions.

Alain Moussu, President of the Vétérinaires pour la Biodiversité, highlights: “Veterinarians have joined this initiative in large numbers because they are both sensitive to the cruelty that prevails in this market and concerned about the ecological imbalances caused by the collapse of amphibian populations and the subsequent risks for human health linked with the increasing mosquitos’ populations.”

France has a particular responsibility

It’s absurd: the natural frog populations 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 Dr Sandra Altherr, head of science at Pro Wildlife.

Frog populations native to France and the EU are protected against commercial exploitation; the EU should no longer permit the overexploitation of frog species and populations in the major supplying countries to not only threaten the targeted species and populations but also the respective ecosystems and their services for humans”, the joint letter to President Macron reads. It continues: “We see France as having a particular responsibility to take the lead on this issue. Please arrange your Environmental Ministry to take the necessary steps and become the champion of amphibian conservation at the next CITES meeting.”

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About Vétérinaires pour la Biodiversité
Vétérinaires pour la Biodiversité is a non-profit organisation founded in 2023 and aiming to give a voice to the veterinarians on any subject linked with wildlife. Our levers of action are, on the one hand, scientific knowledge, and on the other hand our deep respect for the living. Veterinarians are also particularly sensitive to the interactions between the health of natural ecosystems, animals and humans.

About Robin des Bois
Robin des Bois is a non-profit NGO founded in 1985. Its objective is the protection of Man and the Environment through research and non-violent action. 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. 

 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.

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