Hunters catch bullfrogs to export to European countries
EDİRNE / HATAY
Bullfrogs are an essential part of European cuisine, hence many people in Turkey’s rural northern and southern provinces are hunting to export them.
The small animal is one of the country’s export products, and hunters sell their catch to traders in several western countries.
Despite the declining bullfrog population in the country, a new generation of hunters, who acquired the art of hunting from their fathers, continue to preserve their profession alive.
Hunting in the Meriç district of Edirne, which is famous for its paddy, takes about five hours.
Hüseyin Erhan, a resident of Meriç’s Subaşı village, mediates for the delivery of frogs from hunters to the exporter company.
“Hunters collect the bullfrogs in water channels in the rice fields and bring them to me,” Erhan added, emphasizing that bullfrog hunting has been practiced in the region since the 1970s.
“I place them in five-pound nets and keep them in an air-conditioned area after I do the necessary cleaning,” he said.
“The company’s refrigerated truck visits me twice a week to take the bullfrogs. Our biggest customers are France and Italy,” he noted.
Erhan complained that pesticides are now much stronger than they were in the past, and the frog population has declined over the years due to the heavy use of those pesticides.
Locals in Edirne go hunting during the day in winters, while in Hatay frog hunting is done at night.
Hunters in the Kadıdondurma village of the Meriç gather in the wee hours and take minibuses to travel to the paddies.
Captured bullfrogs are sold through a middleman for roughly 30 Turkish liras (approximately $2.7) per kilo.
Some 30 bullfrogs weigh around 1 kilogram. Middlemen collect the frogs in a poll and classify them according to their size.
In the next step, middlemen deliver the catch to exporting companies alive.
“The catch changes every day. Some days you catch 5 kilograms, some days nothing at all. If you find the right spot, you can catch plenty of them,” said Beyti Aydın, who has been doing bullfrog hunting for 30 years.
Aydın said he had never tasted a bullfrog. “Some restaurants here serve frog legs...My friends say it is very delicious.”
When asked about the difficulties of the business, Aydın noted, “It’s a very tough job. We are working in mud.”
Duran Hakan, 36, is a frog hunter from Hatay’s Kırıkhan district. “I earn a living just by frog hunting,” he said.
He loves summers because on a sunny day, he said he collected around 60 kilograms of frogs a day in the summer.
“Middlemen tell us the demand and we supply them the frogs. This is how things go,” he expressed.