BBC Radio 5 interviews Dr. Kerry Kriger about South Korea and Frog Drinking

BBC Radio 5 contacted me earlier today to see if I had heard about Manchester united soccer player Park Ji-Sung’s liking for drinking boiled frogs. They had received word that Korean group Toad Friends wanted Mr. Park’s assistance raising awareness for amphibians.

Here’s interview 1 of 2:

Michael Hamilton (MH): You know the director of Toad Friends – what sort of group are they? Is this likely to be a PR stunt, or do they genuinely believe they can get Park to back this campaign?
Dr. Kerry Kriger (KK): They are real. I met the director and got a tour of their educational facilities, which were built by the government as a concession after the government destroyed toad habitat in Wonheung. It sounds like they are on their way to success as their efforts are now known in the USA and the UK.

(MH): Tell us about the types of frog Ji Sung Park was drinking –  is it rare?
(KK): I am not sure what he was drinking. He may be unsure as well. Most people do not think about the species of frog they are consuming (as opposed to the species of fish for instance…cod vs snapper etc).

(MH): Are there health benefits to drinking frogs?
(KK): None that validate consuming frogs in this current era of their mass extinction.

(MH): How widely is it being done?
(KK): Hundreds of millions of frogs are taken from the wild each year for use as frog legs by humans worldwide. I do not think frog drinking is very common, but it is certainly done in Peru and the altiplano regions of South America as frog frappes — often using Telmatobius frogs, which are rapidly disappearing due to a number of factors.

(MH): How damaging is this practice to the frog population?
(KK): I do not have data on Korea’s frog consumption, but frog legs eating certainly causes problems in many areas of the world. For instance, in France it is illegal to consume native frogs — they nearly ate all theirs to extinction, so now they import frogs from Indonesia. India and Bangladesh stopped exporting frogs in the 1970’s when they noticed their mosquito populations were rising due to the removal of frogs from the ecosystem. The California Red-Legged Frog nearly got eaten to extinction in the 1890’s by the gold miners.

(MH): What are the laws surrounding these frogs?
(KK): Only a small proportion of frogs receive legal protections. Of those frogs that do have legal rights, there are rarely people or groups enforcing the laws.

 

Toad Ecological Culture Center
Dr. Kerry Kriger at Toad Friends’ Toad Ecological Culture Center in Cheongju, South Korea


Park Wan-Hee, Director of Toad Friends, at Wonheung, site of a 2,000 person protest to save Asiatic Toads. The developers won, as you can see, but the site has educated thousands of Koreans about toads.

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