Frog species threatened by France and Europe's taste for frogs' legs, experts warn Macron

Some frog species are being threatened by Europe's, and especially France's, appetite for frogs' legs, hundreds of experts have warned.

In a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, more than 550 vets, researchers and conservationists have called for the EU to stop allowing the "overexploitation" of frogs in Asia and southeast Europe for the EU's hunger for frogs' legs.

"We see France as having a particular responsibility to take the lead on this issue," it added.

The letter points out that frog populations native to France and the EU are protected against commercial exploitation.

Nonetheless, the EU imports more than 4,000 tonnes of frozen frogs' legs each year, or between 80 and 200 million amphibians.

France takes 3,000 tonnes, according to environmental campaigners Robin des Bois, who organised the letter, and Pro Wildlife.

The vast majority of them are sourced from wild populations, in particular from Indonesia, Turkey and Albania, and several species and populations are already experiencing a significant decline, the letter said.

Frogs' legs are also imported from Vietnam, but these originate from farms that also have a negative impact on the wild frog population.

One species, the fanged river frog (Limnonectes macrodon) has apparently disappeared from commercial imports to France, it said, quoting "recent field studies".

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".

Frogs play a crucial role in ecosystem function and continuous offtakes disrupt their functions, the letter said.

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Dr Sandra Altherr, head of science at Pro Wildlife, said: "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.

Alain Moussu, president of the Veterinaires pour la Biodiversite, said the collapse of amphibian populations has resulted in "ecological imbalances and risks for human health linked to increasing mosquitos' populations".

A group of 46 environmental NGOs made a similar request of the French environment ministry in February.