Amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians (they look like snakes but their skin is smooth, not scaly). Whereas reptiles cover snakes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles, tortoises and turtles.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2022 as many as 1,532 species of anurans (frogs) and 825 species of reptiles in the world were critically endangered and vulnerable due to agriculture and its management practices (read pesticides).

Export Ban on Frogs’ Legs in 1987

Beauty Without Cruelty relentlessly spent over a decade convincing the Government of India to stop exporting frogs’ legs or des cuisses de grenouilles in French. The ban came into force in 1987 when BWC publicly appealed to the late Bhajan Lalji, the then Union Minister for Environment & Forests, at a political rally in Mukkam (Rajasthan) and put pressure upon him via the Bishnoi community. (For decades the Bombay Natural History Society and the Blue Cross of Madras had also been campaigning for the ban, but this strategy by BWC eventually worked.) Facts such as the barbaric manner in which the frogs’ hind legs were chopped off and the ecological imbalance created were stressed.

India was internationally respected for imposing this ban. The manner in which the frogs were brutally butchered had been extensively covered and condemned by the foreign media and this had adverse effects on the country’s image abroad.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority had tried their best to help the trade and went as far as organising the First World Conference on Trade in Frogs’ Legs vis-à-vis Environmental Considerations (Calcutta, April 1986). This was another ploy by the Commerce Ministry to avoid banning the export, but the Ministry of Environment & Forests had recommended a total ban.

Although the Commerce Ministry did not take a firm stand in 1986, they did not issue export licences. In 1984-85 India had exported 2,770 tonnes of frogs’ legs. By not exporting India’s loss was about Rs 7 crores in foreign exchange, but in the long run the country saved at least Rs 50 crore by reducing its pesticide imports. It had been emphatically proved that in agricultural areas pesticides were needed to be widely used to destroy insects which would normally have been consumed by the frogs.

Contrary to the exporters’ plea, the ban did not affect the livelihood of any tribal or other persons because catching of frogs was a side line. Furthermore, the traders also dealt in the processing and export of various marine products.

It was then that the frog (Rana tigrina) was included in Schedule II, Part 2 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 which gave it a special status of protection. The ecological imbalance created had also been stressed by environmentalists.

In fact, the ban was welcomed on ecological, ethical and economical grounds.

Poaching, Trapping, Selling in Goa, Kerala and Nagaland

In 2014 The Zoological Survey of India in their publication titled “Threatened Amphibians of India” pointed out that more than 20% of frogs and toads (78 of the 340 species) found in India were under threat. They were very sensitive to habitat and climate change and were therefore bio-indicators – their presence/absence indicated the state of the environment.

Incidentally, there is little difference between frogs and toads except that toads have warts on their bodies and mainly live on land, whereas frogs prefer water.

Beauty Without Cruelty has heard of frogs’ legs being served all year round at certain big restaurants of Goa who stockpile them in their freezers by purchasing live frogs or frogs’ legs from village youth for amounts ranging from Rs 75 to 250 each. Frog meat is called “jumping chicken” in Goa. Venison, porcupine and wild boar are also illegally served with feni, the local liquor. In many parts of India, including Mumbai, battered and fried frogs’ legs are considered an exotic food.

The species that are poached are the Indian Bullfrog, Jerdon Bullfrog, Indian Pond Frog, Grass Frog and some times the Common Indian Toad. Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, any individual or restaurant detected to be catching, killing, selling, serving or even eating frog meat attracts stringent punishment with a fine of Rs 25,000/- and/or imprisonment up to 3 years.

Instead of going all out to implement this law, in 2015 the Goa Forest Department issued an advisory that eating frog meat could lead to illnesses ranging from cancer to kidney failure to paralytic strokes due to their bodies being full of agrochemicals used liberally in fields. This is so because their skin is permeable and they breathe through it. Toxins, chemicals and fertilisers can easily get absorbed into their bodies.

In June 2019 it was reported that the demand for frog meat or “jumping chicken” (curried frog legs) in Goa was posing a severe threat to the Indian Bullfrog in adjoining Uttara Kannada district. During monsoon frogs were being hunted by gangs in the wetlands along Bhatkal and smuggled into Goa.


The authorities and NGOs have launched a Save Frogs campaign to highlight the importance of the frog in the ecosystem. They say that with a torch in one hand and a bag in the other, poachers slosh around marshy fields and open areas sodden with rain, hunting for frogs. Believe it or not, the majority of poachers are white-collar workers opting to hunt frogs at night.

Eating frogs’ legs (different species) has resulted in mosquito populations to surge. For example, there was a time when up to 30 species of frogs were seen in the coastal Karwar region, but now it’s rare to see any frogs. A single frog can eat up to 100 mosquitoes a night including those that carry malaria, dengue and chikungunya fevers.

In Kerala, frogs’ legs are also considered a delicacy, mainly fried, or made into a curry, and served by the innumerable kallu (toddy) and arrack (liquor or wine which is distilled) shops particularly in central parts of the state.

Surprisingly, there exists a Kerala Frog Catchers’ Association in the state. Teams of 4 to 5 persons move out in the dark armed with sacks and petromax lamps. The frogs are effectively stunned by the bright light so can be easily picked up and thrown into the sacks and carried away. Their hind legs are then amputated and the severed bodies dumped as waste for scavenger birds. They have even been catching frogs from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka during the monsoon breeding season.

Frogs, eels, snails and crickets are sold alongside shellfish and grubs and served (eels live and slithering) in restaurants at Dimapur in Nagaland and are popular during the state’s annual Hornbill Festival in December.

Sikkim’s Lepchas community strongly believe that eating frogs can cure stomach ailments. This apart, frogs’ legs is a popular dish among the Sikkimese.

Just before monsoon 2020, BWC alerted the governments of Goa, Karnataka and Kerala about poaching of frogs. We pointed out that a fall in frog populations had given rise to mosquitoes and that eating wild species was unadvisable in view of current the COVID-19 situation. Replies from several forest divisions of Karnataka stated that although no illegal hunting and trading of frogs was found, a strict vigil would be kept by their field staff. Similarly BWC wrote to the Sikkim and requested them to launch a campaign against trapping, selling, serving and eating frogs’ legs which were known as “jumping chicken” there too, and take strict and immediate action against the culprits so others were stalled in committing the same crime.

Last but not least, the University of Uppsala (Sweden) has found that linuron, a potato herbicide, harms frogs by reducing male fertility and making more tadpoles female. This is in addition to the well documented devastation pesticides have caused to insect populations that are consumed by frogs.

In 2019 researchers of ATREE stated that an increasing number of deformed frogs like those with missing limbs and eyes were being found in different parts of India. The reasons could be pollution, or may be the pesticides used in paddy fields where a large percentage of frogs and born.

Meanwhile, the least we can do is to appreciate frogs by creating awareness on the World Frog Day which falls on 20 March.

Frogs Exploited

In 2020 scientists from the Center for Regenerative & Developmental Biology at Tufts University (USA) created the world’s first Xenobots or “living machines” – tiny robots built from the cells of the African clawed frog that can move around on their own. They repurposed living cells scraped from frog embryos and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. In other words disgustingly Man played God.
Page last updated on 28/04/23