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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Russia jumps on Chinese poachers
Chinese frog poachers
Poaching is a very lucrative business

Chinese frog poachers are giving the border guards in Russia's Far East a headache they can do without.

A report by Russian TV One claims that as many as 15 poachers have been caught red-handed by Russian border guards in the past week alone.

Frog meat is highly prized in China as a delicacy, and frog fat is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The report says the poachers can sell a sackful of the Russian frogs for hundreds of dollars per kilo.

Frog fat is even more sought after, with prices of up to 20,000 dollars a kilo.

'Destructive' methods

The methods used to catch the animals range from the ingenious to the outright destructive.

Three men caught at the Shkolnaya border were carrying a piece of typical home-made equipment - a metal rod with electrodes made of ordinary wire, and a bicycle generator attached to the rod.

Frog-catching equipment
The poacher's metal rod kills more than just frogs

This contraption is lowered into a river and the electricity stuns the frogs so that they can be more easily collected.

More seriously, the poachers also pour strong herbicides into whole stretches of river and simply harvest the dead frogs afterwards.

But the poison also kills fish and other water creatures, as well as contaminating drinking water supplies.

The TV report says that thanks to a warm autumn this year, the frog-hunting season is still in full swing.

Frogs are not the only animal under threat. Poachers are also interested in the Siberian tiger and Far Eastern leopards, whose hide and bones are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pavel Fomenko of the World Wildlife Fund condemns the poachers in the strongest terms.

"This is ecological terrorism," he says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Russian frogs leg it to France
29 Jul 02  |  Media reports
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24 Jul 00  |  Science/Nature


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