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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Toad wine: dried, fried, crushed and mixed on the rocks

Toad wine: dried, fried, crushed and mixed on the rocks

F IRST the geckos, now its the toads. Poorer Cambodians are drinking so much

toad-wine as to cause worries that the local toad population is being

decimated.

Environment Minister Dr Mok Mareth has appealed to toad

hunters to stop catching the amphibians. "It greatly affects the environment...

toads [help] create balance in the ecosystem," he said.

Tens of thousands

of toads are being killed and mixed with white wine that traditional healers

believe is good to cure some sexually transmitted diseases.

However many

local drinkers find the toad-wine - a stout-like liquid - a way to enjoy alcohol

which is much cheaper than beer or whiskey.

According to Chay Seang Y, a

popular traditional healer in Phnom Penh, toad wine is especially good for

syphilis but the advertising label claims that it is good for the treatment of

many other kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, in addition to the promotion

of appetite and good sleep.

Seang Y said the toad wine - unlike the gecko

wine which is believed to have originated in China and Vietnam - is an ancient

Khmer heritage handed down for generations. It has become even more popular in

recent years. The toads are dried, fried, crushed and mixed in white wine along

with some herbs, including black sugar cane, according to Seang Y. He said the

toad had specific properties to chase the virus out of the blood while the other

herbs wait "to ambush and destroy it outside".

Under Secretary of State

for Environment Pou Savath does not care much about such super properties of the

toad, however. "I'd sooner see toads catching harmful insects that destroy crops

in the field," he said.

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