Someone once asked me why I write non-fiction rather than fiction. The answer is simple -- the truth is almost always much more hilarious. Or at least stranger than fiction.
Take, for example, Peru's Lake Titicaca, reportedly the highest navigable lake in the world. From what I understand, it is pronounced just like it is spelled (which will, no doubt, provoke great mirth in my second-grader and kindergartner when I share this intelligence with them this evening).
But that's just the beginning.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the lake's frogs are in great peril because "local fisherman are harvesting the Lake Titicaca frogs and selling them in nearby cities, where the frog is later skinned alive and blended in a beverage known as 'frog juice.'" Supposedly, this is because "locals think the beverage improves virility."
Here in Alabama, drinking the juice of freshly skinned frogs often has the opposite effect. But I digress.
Apparently, the imbibing of Lake Titicaca frogs by sexually challenged Peruvian males is such a threat that, as the Fish & Wildlife Service reported earlier this week, some of the $358,482 that the service is awarding in international conservation grants to programs in Asia and Central and South America under its Amphibians in Decline Fund (a subset of its Wildlife Without Borders Grant Program), will be used for "a social marketing campaign to change local attitudes and behaviors impacting the survival of the Lake Titicaca frog in Peru."
The service's website provides more detail, explaining how the grant ($25,000, to be precise) will be used, in part, to "develop 'frog teams,' which will work with local fishermen and talk about how frog tadpoles are an important food source for the fish they depend on for their livelihood."
At this point, one might accuse me of being anti-Lake Titicaca frog. Nothing can be further from the truth. I can honestly say that I've never met a Lake Titicaca frog that I didn't like. Nevertheless, I have to admit -- the thought of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spending $25,000 to help convince a Peruvian fisherman not to turn Kermit la Rana into Kermit the Viagra Cocktail leaves me needing a stiff drink.
So, bartender, another round of frog juice. Please.