By Bhiva P Parab
Come monsoons, and the croaking begins. Frogs are members of the zoological class Amphibia and are found almost everywhere in Goa, right from the coastal villages to the forests of the Western Ghats.
The agricultural community of the state is so familiar with the species that they have made place for it in the rich local folklore. One folksong that makes reference of the frog goes as follows:
“Aarad Ge Bepake Saan Jawni
Mazha Aawayak Ghara Yewni, Ghara Yewni
Aarad Ge Bepake Saan Jawni
Mazha Babak Ghara Yewni, Ghara Yewni”
Through this folksong children request the frog to cry, as they believe that once the frog starts crying it will be believed to be evening and their parents will return home from the fields. Like Goa, in various other states of the country, frogs have found place in people’s beliefs. When there is no rain for days together, in some villages of Assam young girls catch two frogs and get them married. This ritual is called Bhekuli Biya. At the end of the ceremony the frogs are placed on a tiny raft and floated on a river. By doing so they believe it will rain.
But, today these frogs, especially the Indian Bullfrogs, have become a culinary delicacy. These ‘jumping chicken’ as they are also called are relished by some.
People fail to understand the importance of a frog’s role in the smooth functioning of the ecosystem. The craze for ‘jumping chicken’ will lead to their exploitation, which will pave way for their extinction, which in turn will affect the smooth functioning of the ecosystem. Uncontrolled hunting of frogs will drastically reduce their population and as a result insects and other pests, normally eaten by frogs, will proliferate. This will upset Nature’s balance and could also give rise to diseases. To keep a check on the frog population there are natural predators like snakes whose food includes frogs.
The adult frogs that are considered a delicacy have passed through several hurdles to reach this stage of maturity. Frogs find mates and have courtship. They tend to lay many eggs since there are many hazards between fertilization and development into an adult frog. Those who manage to hatch start out on a journey of many perils. Tadpoles are fragile at early stages and so they stick themselves to floating weeds or grass. As time passes tadpoles get transformed into adult frogs. These adult frogs will begin the entire process again. Some frogs make so much noise that they can be heard from long distances.
These little creatures that also enter the house were normally not killed by Hindus, who saw Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, in the frog. If it entered the house the elders used to say, “Do not kill it, it is Goddess Laxmi which has come into our house.” However, today these helpless creatures, which are an integral part of the intricate ecosystem, are in need of help because the rampant hunt for this ‘jumping chicken’ has jeopardised their existence.
How can you help to save the frogs? Think and act!