Frog Fields

Frogs & Friends

Hunter and hunted. Frogs eat insects. They’re also an important source of food for people in West Africa. But too much hunting has decimated frog populations in many areas. Frogs & Friends and the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin have an idea that could benefit both the frogs and the people: Frog farms in rice fields.

Setting: West Africa. Intense hunting is threatening to wipe out entire frog populations.

Our answer: People can live with and still live off the frogs, without driving them to extinction.

The complete Reportage about the "Benin's fields of frogs" project with all supplement contents can be experienced at the Frogs & Friends website: Frogs & Friends

Rice paddies provide an ideal habitat for frogs – but also hunting grounds for frog collectors. The shallow water makes hunting them easy.

A simple method of preserving frogs is by sun-drying them. The animals are usually gutted and laid out on well-ventilated decks for drying.

Hundreds of thousands of frogs are collected every year in the Malanville region in northern Benin, most of which are intended for export to Nigeria.

An alternative preservation method: Smoked frog.

The calls of the frogs bring rain, according to the rice farmers in Malanville. But can they imagine raising frogs in their fields?

When meeting up with the rice farmers in Malanville, in the border triangle of Benin, Niger, and Nigeria, we were surprised by their reaction.

To watch the complete story about our research trip to Benin, welcome to our Web-Reportage at Frogs & Friends.

Tasty tidbits - The edible frogs of Benin, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.
Hoplobatrachus occipitalis, African Tiger Frog. The largest and by far most popular edible frog in the region is hunted, traded and consumed everywhere.

Amietophrynus masculatus – Hallowell's Toad

Toads are poisonous, and this also applies to the Hallowell’s toad. Growing to some 10 cm, it makes for a popular meal in some regions of Burkina Faso nevertheless. It is all a question of knowing how to prepare it. Besides as food toads are regionally used to cure various diseases.

African clawed frogs of the genus Xenopus do not necessarily attract by their outer appearance. Nonetheless this aquatic frog is eaten by people. Although it can be found in waters in many African countries, it serves as popular food mainly in Nigeria.

The tangled tale of the African clawed frog

If you want to discover more about this extraordinary frog and his career as the first reliable pregnancy "tester" on earth, you'll find this story at the end of chapter 3 in our web-reportage: Benin's fields of frogs

Frogs can get sick, too. A skin swab can quickly determine whether the frogs carry diseases that could threaten both, individual animals and the whole project. A visit to an outdoor clinic.

Frogs make you fit
Frogs primarily feed on animal protein, especially from insects. A fully-grown tiger frog of the genus Hoplobatrachus is to consume about one tenth of its own body weight per day. At the same time, the fight against malaria is one of the greatest economical challenges in West African countries. Healthy amphibian populations could play a very useful role here as well.

The fish farm example - Factory farming versus organic methods. Should one really always have to sacrifice the environment for profitable farming? Frogs & Friends visit Benin’s fish farms.

Making of... Impressions of a research trip
Take 1: How do you catch a tiger frog? An easy quest when it hides in the filter of a swimming pool. Mark-Oliver Rödel and Gilles Nago at work.

UFO Alert - Rice farmers in Malanville are puzzled about our camera drone taking aerial shots of their rice paddies.

The headmaster of the University of Abomey-Calavi, Brice Sinsin, discussing drone technology with our cameraman, Leendert de Jong. His idea: Using drones to locate poacher camps in the forests.

Frogs are not always in the center of interest: Mark-Oliver Rödel assisting with identifying a native chelonian.

Networking in Cotonou

A successful project needs more than just a good idea. It needs good partners. We found them at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, a scientific counterpart to our german partners, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the Robert Koch-Institute Berlin.

So the basis is set. Nevertheless, besides the scientific expertise, it'll need supporters who share our vision of a sustainable co-existence between humans and wildlife. Frogs & Friends


Frogs & Friends
Credits: Story

Exhibition by Frogs & Friends
Exhibition curators: Björn Encke & Annette Kinitz

Video content origin: Frog Fields by Frogs & Friends
Written and Directed by Björn Encke
Camera: Leendert de Jong
Editor: Ed van Megen
Produced by Filmtank

Photographs: Mark-Oliver Rödel (frogs of West Africa), Mareike Hirschfeld (HUnter, smoked and dried frogs), Björn Encke ("making of" research trip)

With the support of the Interactive Media Foundation gGmbh (IMF)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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