CLARIN

Warts And All: In Defense Of Frogs

Considered the ugliest of them all, frogs are far more helpful to the environment than cuddly kittens or charming princes. It's time to start showing some serious amphibian amour!

Future Pince Charming
Future Pince Charming
Martha Gutiérrez

There are some animal species that seem destined for rejection. Typically, they are the ones that look very different from us, and are often arbitrarily classified as ugly animals.

In the United States and Britain, animal protection activists have coined a word to define the discrimination by humans against certain species of animals: “specism.”

These prejudicial attitudes towards our Animal Kingdom brothers can take different forms. But rest assured that what is pretty or ugly to us will not necessarily mean the same to them. Of course a rat would not think of another rat as ugly, nor would a toad judge another toad in such a way. Each animal has a natural value and every creature has an intrinsic value.

If having purely subjective and shallow opinions were the end of it, it would not be so serious. The problem is that the animals considered “ugly” are commonly harassed, damaged, decimated, and annihilated. This comes at a high cost to them — but it can also cause serious harm to the environment.

Such is the case of amphibians, a species where well-known animals such as frogs and toads are found. These beings have a very positive impact on the environment. As such, they urgently need to be shielded from the continuous danger they face due to the lack of care and respect they receive from humans.

People are certainly more likely to show mercy for a poor dog being attacked by a group of kids throwing stones at it than for a toad the kids are "just having fun" with frying under a magnifying glass.

Fortunately, there are people who do rise in defense of amphibians. For example, Carlos Fernández Balboa, of the Argentina Wildlife Foundation, author of the Guide To Defend Amphibians.

Many amphibians are unknown to people who use the words “toad” or “frog” interchangeably to refer to almost all of the species, Fernández Balboa explains. Through his work, we come to know that there are some 4,150 different amphibian species in the world that quietly benefit the environment in mountain, forest, and lake areas. Closer to home, they also feed on insects that cause us problems in our backyards and gardens.

Amphibians are very useful to the environmental equilibrium. Knowing them better, more profoundly, is the first step to affording them the justice they are due.

And if ecological motivations fail to change your mind, maybe it's worth imagining an amphibian version of that famous fairy tale, where this time the mamma frog croaks out the story to her little ones about how, after the kiss ... the ugly Prince turned into a handsome frog!

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Geopolitics

In Sudan, A Surprise About-Face Marks Death Of The Revolution

Ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was the face of the "stolen revolution". The fact that he accepted, out of the blue, to return at the same position, albeit on different footing, opens the door to the final legitimization of the coup.

Sudanese protesters demonstrating against the military regime in London on Nov. 20, 2021

Nesrine Malik

A little over a month ago, a military coup in Sudan ended a military-civilian partnership established after the 2019 revolution that removed President Omar al-Bashir after almost 30 years in power. The army arrested the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and, along with several of his cabinet and other civil government officials, threw him in detention. In the weeks that followed, the Sudanese military and their partners in power, the Rapid Support Forces, moved quickly.

They reappointed a new government of “technocrats” (read “loyalists”), shut down internet services, and violently suppressed peaceful protests against the coup and its sabotaging of the 2019 revolution. During those weeks, Hamdok remained the symbol of the stolen revolution, betrayed by the military, detained illegally, unable to communicate with the people who demanded his return. In his figure, the moral authority of the counter-coup resided.

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