The toad's rural saviours

Published: Wednesday 15 March 1995

-- Villages around Calcutta are possibly the safest place in the country for toads. Villagers have virtually paralysed biology practical tests in several schools and colleges in the city by blockading toad-catching. With the board examinations coming up, educational authorities are panicking.

Apparently the villagers have taken the government's recent ban on frog capturing very seriously. And their growing awareness of the environmental importance of toads has led to suppliers being stopped from catching the bouncers. Although there is no restriction on collecting the commonly found Bufo melanostictus, Dulal Das, a regular supplier of toads to various city schools, says, "Villagers do not distinguish between toads and frogs. They are not allowing the collection of toads either." Villagers are also afraid that collectors might finish off the rare and protected species, Rana tigrina.

Guinea pigs have already been banned from school and college laboratories, and the recent developments have left biology teachers wondering if they will soon be forced to remove dissections from the syllabus altogether.

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