By Marx Tejaswi
KARWAR: With monsoon fast approaching, poachers are out to catch frogs again, thanks to the huge demand for the amphibian meat among foreign tourists. Frog meat is popular among the Russians and Spaniards in Goa and Maharashtra.
To meet this demand, poachers go deep into the forests of Uttara Kannada during the monsoon and return with plenty of frogs, and smuggle them into the two neighbouring states.
Uttara Kannada district is known to have various species of frogs, some of them rare.
Poachers refer to frog meat as ‘mountain chicken’, and it is used as a code word to communicate with their counterparts from across the border.
Forest Department officials admit that poaching of frogs is illegal in Karnataka and Maharashtra, but yet it is difficult to check the practice. They admit that frog poaching has been on the rise in Uttara Kannada too. The Forest Department has, however, been catching poachers when they start their nefarious activities after the onset of monsoon.
But market functionaries in Margao and Panaji appear to be oblivious to the smuggling of frogs from Karnataka. This is because the poachers take them directly to the hotels and eateries, especially to places frequented by foreigners. The poachers are paid by the size of the amphibian — the bigger the frog, the higher the price.
Environmentalists in Uttara Kannada who help Forest Department officials nab poachers say it is a difficult task as there are too many of them.
District conservator of forests Heeralal said some frog species are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Despite this, poaching is rampant.
“I will meet the chief conservator of forests of Goa and discuss measures to curb the poaching and smuggling of frogs,” Heeralal said.
Environmentalists have another concern. They say that since frogs are prey for snakes, the serpents will enter human habitats in search of food.