The Sonoran Desert Toad is a victim of the success of its venom. Faced with an increase in demand for this psychedelic substance, the population of amphibians in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States is in sharp decline.
Nicknamed “the molecule of God”, the venom of this toad is particularly sought after because it would be able to completely reset the central nervous system, reports the New York Times relayed by Geo. It would thus have the virtue of treating certain mental disorders or drug addiction.
Overexploitation of venom denounced by researchers
The consumption of this venom takes place during an intense experience lasting 15 to 30 minutes. This practice now represents a very lucrative business. In the United States, prices range from 230 euros for a simple ceremony in Texas to 7,700 euros for a luxurious seaside retreat, notes Geo.
But for this, the substance secreted by certain glands of the toad, which can be up to 19 cm long, must be harvested. Scientists denounce a “rush” on toads, causing an increase in poaching, overexploitation and illegal trafficking in the region.
The number of Sonoran Desert toads has been steadily declining in recent decades. Once present in California, it has not been seen in the wild for many years. The species is now classified as “threatened” by the authorities of the State of New Mexico.