Are frog populations in Goa really on the decline?
Yes they are. Frog populations can be assumed to be declining in Goa, just as it they are in the rest of the world. Globally, frog species are disappearing at an increasingly rapid rate, faster than they have ever done in the past 65 million years.
In India, studies in 1999 and 2002 have been conducted by amphibian specialists in coordination with International agencies like the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Moreover basic surveys and compilation of checklists on different frog species have also been carried out by researchers at the Goa University’s Department of Zoology, the Goa Forest Department in conjunction with local individual herpetologists that indicate their depleting numbers.
There is however, a serious need for long term monitoring of Goan frog populations existing in Goa.
What are the reasons for this decline?
There are a number of threats to the existence of frog species, however in Goa the chief threats are:
Poaching and consumption of frogs without allowing them to breed. At the onset of the monsoons frogs end their aestivation and come out to breed. Selective poaching of the mature bigger adult frogs before the frog can breed, will defiantly lead to a catastrophic decline, drastically reducing the number for a future frog population.
The toxic effects of use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. Flooded paddy fields are ideal habitat for frogs. Frogs absorb water through their skin, and thus are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of residual chemicals that concentrate in ponds and low lying fields.
Habitat destruction. Rampant filling of fields and clearing of forest cover, besides encroachment on forests by human activities such as mining, construction, etc have possibly caused entire resident populations to dramatically decline within a short period.
Human interference in ecological balance. A significant global trend that is threatening frog populations as a whole worldwide include climate change, global warming, introduction of invasive species and the transfer of disease from farmed to wild frog populations.
Are some species more vulnerable than others?
Yes. In Goa, the two largest species; the Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) and the Jerdon’s Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus crassus), are selectively poached for their large fleshy legs, the most prized anatomy of the frog. The Indian Pond Frog, Grass Frog and the Common Indian Toad are also occasionally poached.
An insatiable demand at restaurants for illegal frog meat has ensured a lucrative return to the poacher for a pair of frog legs.
Noticing the dramatic decrease in numbers of these two species; the Indian Bullfrog and the Jerdon’s Bullfrog, are now listed as threatened species that require protection against hunting or harvesting in the Schedule-I List of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 set up by the Government of India, as well the IUCN Red List recognized internationally.
What is the law?
The Government of India in 1985 declared a blanket ban on the catching and the killing of frogs under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. This implies that any individual or restaurant detected to be catching, killing, selling, serving or even eating frog meat violates the provisions of the Act. This would attract stringent punishment with a fine of Rs 25,000 and/or imprisonment upto 3 years. In 2008, 10 persons were detained and fined under this act. Repeated offenders can get even more stringent punishment by possibly revoking their commercial licenses.
Ok, but why do I have to stop eating frog? How will it affect me?
A lot more than you realize…
Eating frog meat can jeopardize human health to the toxic chemicals absorbed by frogs from the environment. Due to the massive toxic pesticide residues that accumulate in the fat deposits of frog meat, consumption of frogs can trigger paralytic strokes, cancer, kidney failures and other deformities. Frog meat is contraband and usually processed in unsanitary conditions, with no regulation what so ever.
Frogs are the pulse of Goa’s environment, a very unsung yet crucial component of the ecosystem bridging a vital link as predator and prey in the food chain. Their impending extinction will have a ripple effect on the ecosystem, which we have not yet fully foreseen, by throwing a delicate ecological balance out of gear.
Frogs and tadpoles are voracious eaters, and consume millions of mosquitoes and mosquito larvae every year. One of the suspected reasons for the recent increase in recorded cases of malaria and other vector borne diseases in Goa, can be attributed to the decline in the numbers of frogs.
In Goan mythology frogs are believed to bring prosperity and good rainfall.
How can I help to save our frogs?
Firstly, discourage others, if not yourself from consuming frog meat. If there is no demand for frog legs, frog-poachers simply won’t catch them. Secondly, if you come across people poaching frogs or restaurants serving frog meat, report it to the police (100/108) or any of these Forest Department official’s, preferably at the location closest to you –
NORTH GOA – 2228 772
9422 437 137 (DCF North Goa M K Shambhu)
9822 587 607 (ACF Maupsa Anil Shetgaokar)
2374 406 (FTS Valpoi)
9423 316 280, 2220736 (RFO Campal Amar Heblekar)
EAST GOA – 2312 095
9423 314 824, 2935800 (RFO Bondla Deepak Betqikar)
9423 055 919, 2612211 (RFO Mollem S. Gawas)
SOUTH GOA – 2750 246
9422 437 037 (DCF South Goa M K Bidi)
9822 157 139, 2965601 (RFO Cotigao Paresh Parab)
9422 439 953 (CCF Dr. Sashi Kumar)
9423 889 890 (DCF Panjim Devendra Dalai)
9422 437 333 (CCF Richard D'Souza)
9422 388 188 (ACF Dr. Francis Coelho)
9422 437 237 (CF Yogesh)
After reporting to the authorities, it would be appreciated if you can contact a WildGoa volunteers at NORTH GOA: 9011-051-950 (Luis Dias) or 9822-522-119 (Arati Das) and SOUTH GOA: 9823-171-312 (Sandeep Azrenkar) or 9890-936-828 (Clinton Vaz) who will record and follow up your complaint with the Forest Officials.
About this Campaign
Save the Frog Campaign 2009 is coordinated by WildGoa, a Goa related network of Wildlife enthusiasts and NGOs. Volunteers have put in time and effort to create informative and educative content which is then distributed through local networks, press, radio and local television. This awareness and enforcement campaign has been on for the last 4 consecutive years and is actively supported by the Goa Forest Department a number of local as well as International organizations including Amphibian Ark, SAVE THE FROGS!, Botanical Society of Goa, Organic Farming Association of India, GOACAN, Earthworm, Green Essentials, WWF-Goa, Nisarga Nature Club, Vivekananda Environmental Awareness Brigade, & Mitra. For more information do visit www.savegoafrogs.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org To contact us, you may call any of the WildGoa volunteers mentioned above.