National Geographic : 1967 Jul
Hungry stares greet a goliath shown by Sefior Sabater to Rio Muni's Bayele Pygmies. Encountered as they hunted jungle antelope with spear and giant net, the nomadic forest dwellers jubilantly hailed the great frog as a coveted delicacy. of the frog's long, sticky, fast-flicking tongue. Goliath's early growth stages give no hint of impending gigantism. Eggs, tadpoles, and young are not much larger than those of any other of the world's 250 species of true frog (page 151). Only after metamorphosis are the mysterious forces of excessive growth released. Gift Greeted With Joyous Somersault It is unfortunate for a species when man finds it good to eat, but luckily, few of Rio Muni's Fangs even know of the big frog's existence, let alone its taste. Not so with the Bayele, a tribe of Pygmies who live a withdrawn, nomadic life in the dark forests of northern Rio Muni and Camer oon. These small people subsist on bush ele phant, antelope, birds, fish, and buffalo. We encountered a party of Bayele hunters dur ing a trip deep into the jungle and decided to test their familiarity with the frogs by giving them one of our specimens. Yells and screams of delight rose when we opened our basket and presented the head man with a live giant frog. One man began to turn cartwheels; another climbed a tree and gaily somersaulted down in front of us. "Do we eat frogs!" roared the headman, as our translator did his best. Words flowed, faces beamed, arms gestured. It added up to the glories of frog meat, to goliath's wariness, to the hazards of stalking in the cascades. Our jungle friends invited us to their en campment. Two of the men busied themselves with tinder and a whirling stick, and before long the frog was in a pot over a blazing fire. Because of falling darkness, we could not stay for the feast. Still in high spirits, the little men led us back to our trail. I was convinced that whenever opportunity presents itself, Conrauagoliath is as much a part of their diet as any other jungle quarry. I could understand the Pygmies' enthu siasm for the present we brought them, for frog meat is undeniably tasty, and the gener ous proportions of a goliath drumstick put it in a class by itself. Such appeal could quickly doom these rare animals, were it not for two circumstances: their preference for difficult terrain, and the sparseness of human popula tion to prey upon them. Unless these factors change, their survival seems assured.