The recent rains have brought villagers out in force for the pastime of frog catching, but some say there are fewer frogs this year due to overhunting.
“I’ve hunted frogs since 1991,” said Un Boem, a resident of Battambang province and district. “In previous years there were many frogs but this year and last there have been fewer. In the 1990s I could catch more than 15 kg a night, but today I am getting around four to 10 kg a night.”
More and more people are teaching themselves how to hunt frogs, Un Boem said.
“It is good for me when it rains because there are many frogs who come out of their holes,” said Un Boem, who talked to a reporter as he hunted along National Route 5 on a recent night.
“When dry season comes, it is hard to find frogs because they are staying in their holes,” Un Boem said. The frogs are often exported to Thailand by businessmen who go from village to village in Cambodia, buying the frogs off of the villagers.
The frog traders pay 3,500 riel per kg. If the frogs are sold at market in Cambodia, they go for about 6,500 riel per kg, but prices in Thailand are higher, villagers say.
Frog catching techniques vary, but usually a group of people are more effective working together than alone. Hunting at night, a group of five to ten people walk the fields together, some with flashlights tied to their heads. The frogs are often caught by hand, but some people prefer to use homemade tools for catching them.
Not everyone sells their frogs. Some people eat them at home.
Sok Cheang, a resident of Battambang’s Ratanak Mondol district , said he enjoys hunting at night.
“I am happy when it is raining. It is a temporary business and helps my family’s income for a few months. To catch them does not cost a lot. I just spend enough to buy a flashlight and batteries,” he said.