ISTANBUL: Turkish gendarmerie have released 7,500 illegally hunted frogs — which had been destined for dining tables in China and France — into safe waters, after uncovering a poaching ring.
Officers detained five men on frog trafficking charges, after discovering the amphibians in dozens of nets inside a minibus in the central Anatolian province of Nevsehir, the state-run Anadolu news agency said Wednesday.
The suspects said they were due to ship the frogs to Adana in southern Turkey where they were to be exported on to France and China where frogs are eaten.
The officers later freed the frogs into the Kizilirmak river, one of Turkey´s largest, which flows into the Black Sea.
Hasan Huseyin Dogancay, head of a local livestock agency, told Anadolu it was the first time he had encountered such large-scale poaching.
"We just released the frogs back to nature because they were caught without permission and outside permitted hunting areas," he said.
Conservationists have called for restrictions on frog hunting because of the animal's declining population.