Exotic meats have always been a topic of contention in the Indian subcontinent. Due to awareness generated by animal rights activists and environmentalists, and steps taken by forest officials and local governments, the poaching and consumption of many of these animal species have sufficiently been curbed. But the lack of manpower and surveillance does lead to small pockets within the country still continuing to indulge in meats that are out of the norm. We are talking about ‘jumping chicken’ or frog legs. Specifically, that of the Indian Bullfrog that is poached, caught and consumed for its hind leg meat, supposedly in various parts of rural India. 

During the onset of monsoons, these frogs come out of their hibernation to mate. And in rural spaces where there’s open spaces, paddy fields, ponds and forested areas, these frogs are caught and sold at a rampant pace. Food habits of Indians in various parts of our country is multi-faceted and truly one cannot shame anyone for their food choices, at the very least. In Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur and who knows in how many other small pockets of this country, people have been surviving on meats that are out of the norm, and considered exotic or bushmeat. And not just to single out rural populations, these meats are cooked and served in hotels and restaurants in semi-urban or urban spaces at exorbitant rates for serving the taste of a region’s ‘specialty’.

The problem arises when these wild species are hunted in large numbers and the ecological balance is destroyed in the region and in its surrounding. The Indian Bullfrog was poached on and continues to be so to this day, so much so that their population are under the threat of diminishing in certain areas. Owing to the sizes a bullfrog could grow up to, the proportion of meat to be extracted from them is more, which is why that specific species is so sought after. In Goa, the hind legs of the Indian Bullfrog are called ‘jumping chicken’ and it is often sourced from surrounding states from underprivileged sections of the society in exchange for money or cheap liquor. This comes at a time when possession of these illegal meats could put someone in prison and people are risking that in order to further their own fortunes. The situation is dire, either way one might look at it. The hunt for a specific species of frogs for its culinary use, and the plight of the people who are actively indulging in the hunt of these animals either for consumption purposes or selling it for a profit is both unfortunate. Laws can and have been implemented over the years but a crackdown on eating habits come with resistance on ground. Which is why, in hyperlocal pockets of India where surveillance is less to none, these practices are still around, maybe not totally in the public eye but covertly, for sure.