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Thursday, October 29, 2020

‘Jumping chicken’ poachers keep Karnataka forest officials on their toes

The rising demand for Indian bullfrog meat has forced Karnataka forest officials to be on their toes as large-scale poaching from the state and illegal trade of the same to Goa are expected to take place.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru, Karwar (karnataka) | Updated: June 26, 2019 5:28:53 pm
Scientifically named Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, the Indian bullfrog is one among those animals that come under the ambit of The Wildlife Protection Act (1972) enacted for the protection of plants and animal species. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Rison Thumboor)

The demand for Indian bullfrog meat, also known as ‘jumping chicken’, is at its peak in Goan restaurants as monsoon season kicks in. This has forced Karnataka forest officials to be on their toes as large-scale poaching from the state and illegal trade of the same to Goa are expected to take place.

Confirming this, Deputy Conservator of Forests in Karwar, KV Vasantha Reddy told indianexpress.com that all check-posts on the state borders are on high alert to curb poachers trading the same to Goa.

“Our staff at all check-posts have been directed to be highly vigilant to avoid this taking place. The teams will continue to check each vehicle throughout the monsoon,” he said.

The frisking in place now, according to Karnataka forest department officials, are in accordance with high standards. “We had rescued over 40 bullfrogs in a sack at a check-post in Uttara Kannada last year and have taken all measures to ensure that the same is completely stopped at all check-posts of the state,” a forest official elaborated.

However, Aravind Madhyastha, a fellow at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) said that the issue is something that has been occurring since a long time but has come to the notice of the authorities only in recent years.

“Conserving these frogs are quintessential as they act as the farmers’ friends keeping crops away from pests. They are also part of the food web structure as hawks and eagles feed on them. Mostly found in puddles, marshes, paddy fields and streams, habitat loss is another major threat they face these days apart from hunting as landfills have become common across the state,” he said.

Madhyastha added that the demand for them as a delicacy is high as it tastes like chicken legs. “Hunting frogs has been banned in India since the 1980s and from then the export of frog meat to France has also been stopped. However, poachers are still active as it is of high demand in some parts of the country, especially among foreign tourists in Goa,” he said.

Scientifically named Hoplobatrachus tigerinus, the Indian bullfrog is one among those animals that come under the ambit of The Wildlife Protection Act (1972) enacted for the protection of plants and animal species. According to the Act, violators indulging in frog meat trade and consumption can face imprisonment up to three years or can be fined up to Rs 25,000 if found guilty.

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