A photo of a boy holding a frog the size of a human baby has left Pacific social media users stunned and sparked new interest in a species that’s on the decline.
- The frog is from the species Cornufer guppyi
- They are often called “bush chicken” in the Solomon Islands
- The frog’s numbers are in decline because of human encroachment on their habitat
The photo was taken by Honiara resident Jimmy Hugo on the outskirts of the Solomon Islands’ capital.
Mr Hugo, who runs a timber milling operation, said a group of his workers recently came across the frog while out hunting for wild pig.
He then posted the photo on his Facebook page.
“At first, I thought only a few people would see it and then suddenly I saw lots and lots of people commenting, surprised, and they were thinking this frog is from PNG,” he said.
“I was very surprised to see how people reacted to the picture.”
In the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, the “bush chickens” are traditionally hunted for their meat and prized by locals.
“That’s the expression, it’s bush chicken and it’s more delicious than chicken,” Mr Hugo said.
Solomon Islands biologist Patrick Pikacha said the species, Cornufer guppyi, was one of the largest frogs in the world and found from New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago to the Solomon Islands.
The largest frogs in the world are the African Goliath frogs of Cameroon which have been known to grow up to 36 centimetres in length.
Dr Pikacha said the Cornufer guppyi population had been on the decline in Solomon Islands in recent years, but more because of logging and community settlements expanding into their natural habitat than hunting for food.
He said when humans used streams for washing, the chemicals in the detergents harmed the frogs’ sensitive skin.
“They are becoming quite rare,” he said.
Dr Pikacha said the frog shared on Facebook was large, but he had come across bigger ones on the island of Gatokae, in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands, where the frogs flourished because of a lack of predators.
“I’ve taken a picture of one those frogs [which had a] snout-vent length of about 30cm — the length of your ruler,” he said.
“That frog had a ground grub in its mouth. It … was busy eating and couldn’t jump so I went and patted it like a little puppy dog.
“It was huge.”
While the frog that went viral on social media ended up in Mr Hugo’s workers’ bellies, he said he would spare them in future.
“I told my boys … next time, if you guys catch one, we’ll keep it,” he said.
“So that next time, they see the real frog, not just a picture.” (Courtesy ABC Australia)