Where have all the frogs gone?
The two city corporations of Dhaka have tried many strategies in their war against the city's mosquitoes to prevent dengue from spreading. From flying drones to detect stagnant water sources to releasing frogs in ponds to destroy mosquitoes and their larvae, they explored so many avenues.
In March last year, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) released more than 15,000 frogs in various lakes, ponds and other waterbodies, which are considered as popular breeding areas for mosquitoes.
It was claimed by the authorities that frogs are capable of killing mosquito larvae.
However, the plan cannot exactly be called a success, according to entomologists, who called it an "unthinkable" solution to the problem.
This correspondent recently visited Ramna Kali Mandir and Azimpur Government Colony.
The city corporation authorities have a tendency to control both Aedes and Culex mosquitoes by following the same methods. In reality, the two need different approaches.
The frogs released into the pond inside Ramna Kali Mandir premises and two ponds in Azimpur Government Colony were nowhere to be found. It is as if they never existed in the first place.
Before the frogs, efforts were also made to control mosquitoes by releasing guppy fish in different drains of the city, and ducks and tilapia fish in the lakes back in 2018.
That did not seem to have helped either, as all the fish died within a few days of releasing them into the drains. The number of mosquitoes was also on the rise.
In 2020, ducks and tilapia were released into the lake inside Ramna Park to destroy mosquito larvae. The animals were also released into Khilgaon Battala Jheel.
But within a few months, most of the ducks were stolen, while the others died.
The plans allegedly failed due to the lack of proper planning and maintenance. The plans were adopted on a short notice, without taking long-term consequences in mind.
This only increased the sufferings of city residents, some of whom have been calling these initiatives nothing but a set of publicity stunts.
Dr Kabirul Bashar, professor and entomologist of Jahangirnagar University, said, "Mosquitoes have never been controlled by ducks and frogs... But guppy fish could be an effective method to reduce Culex mosquitoes, as they can survive in dirty water.''
"The city corporation authorities have a tendency to control both Aedes and Culex mosquitoes by following the same methods. In reality, the two need different approaches. Aedes mosquitoes can be controlled using copepods bacteria," he explained.
However, the DSCC authorities begged to differ.
"We don't think the project has failed. We are getting positive results. Mosquito larvae were completely destroyed in the lakes, ponds and waterbodies where frogs were released," acting chief health officer of DSCC Dr Fazle Shamsul Kabir told this correspondent.
When asked about the whereabouts of the frogs, he said, "They are still there."
"We will continue the project," he added.