31 October 1997

FROGS LEGS

MEALS COST TOADS LIVES

MOST wildlife enthusiasts know toads as good friends. They help keep down garden pests and add excitement to our ponds in the spring.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares our enthusiasm for these warty amphibians and see them as just another way of making money. The case I recently came across is the most despicable act of cruelty for greeds sake I have ever had the displeasure to report.

On the bonny banks of Scotlands River Esk, local nature-lovers discovered the bloodied bodies of 200 toads, some of which were still alive.

At a first glance it was thought that a predator like mink or rats was responsible for the carnage. But the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency thought otherwise after they discovered that all the toads had had their rear legs removed.

A London Zoo Veterinary Pathologist confirmed their suspicions – the only plausible explanation was that the toads had been killed by humans and their legs were being passed off as frogs legs by unscrupulous restauranteurs.

Frogs legs sell for £30/kg in Paris. In Britain where they are difficult to get, a frogs leg starter costs diners up to £20. How long must wild creatures die to satisfy mans gastronomic lust in these days of so-called enlightenment? Is nothing safe in our countryside?

Michael Edwards

Happily for this garden-dwelling toad no one wants to put

him on a gourmets menu.