Researchers arrived at this conclusion by analysing UN trade data, although they acknowledge there is a lot of uncertainty in the figure.
France and the US are the two biggest importers, with significant consumption in several East Asian nations.
About one-third of all amphibians are listed as threatened species, with habitat loss the biggest factor.
But hunting is acknowledged as another important driver for some species, along with climate change, pollution and disease – notably the fungal condition chytridiomycosis which has brought rapid extinctions to some amphibians.
The new research, to be published in a forthcoming edition of the journal Conservation Biology, suggests that the global trade in wild frogs has been underestimated in the past.
“Frogs legs are on the menu at school cafeterias in Europe, market stalls and dinner tables across Asia to high end restaurants throughout the world,” said Corey Bradshaw from Adelaide University in Australia.
“Amphibians are already the most threatened animal group yet assessed because of disease, habitat loss and climate change – man’s massive appetite for their legs is not helping.”
Amphibians are farmed for food in some countries but these animals are not included in the new analysis.
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