Under threat: Are animals just "Bushmeat?  SOS! 

Sunday Times, April 9, 2000, http://www.sunday-times.co.uk:80/ reports:

Britain is to lead an international crackdown on the trade in illegal
African "bushmeat", which has seen stewed monkey, fried fruit bat and even
gorilla appearing in ethnic restaurants and butchers in Europe. As 2,000
delegates meet in Nairobi tomorrow for a conference of signatories to the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), British
officials will urge them to draw up tough new rules to halt international
sales of the meat of wild animals.

"There is increasing concern about the high levels of harvesting of
bushmeat," the government said. "Much of the attention has been focused on Africa but there are signs of similar problems in South and Central
America, the Caribbean and Asia."

The move follows a series of grisly seizures, among them the headless
corpses of several gorillas found at Heathrow airport last year. This has
been coupled with warnings from conservation groups of soaring prices for
such meat, leading to a surge in smuggling over the next few years.

Last year a Sunday Times investigation revealed the extent of the trade in
Europe, with reporters being offered stewed monkey at restaurants in
Brussels and fruit bat at African cafes in London. This was followed by a
series of Customs and Excise investigations, which saw seizures of dead
porcupines, monkey, snakes and even anteaters in raids on restaurants and
butchers in London's East End. Officers at Scotland Yard have received
unconfirmed reports of lion meat being offered for sale.

Belgian police raided 12 African food shops last year in the Matonge
district of Brussels. In one they found 2 dead chimpanzees hanging from the
ceiling in a store room, with the remains of other primates, 2 antelopes
and tortoises nearby. There were similar finds in other restaurants in the

Several recent studies in Africa have revealed the extent of the trade. One, in the northern Congo, indicated that 5%-7% of chimpanzee and gorilla
populations were being killed each year. A 12-month study there counted
15,000 animal carcasses at bushmeat markets, including 293 chimpanzees. A
third, at Yaounde, Cameroon, found that a ton of smoked bushmeat was being unloaded at the railway station every day.

Besides bushmeat, the Cites conference will also discuss other controversial issues, including whether to allow limited sales of ivory from southern African elephants. Four African countries - South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia - which want to lift the ban on trading in elephant products, have lined up against others, including Kenya, which say reopening the market would put their elephant populations at risk from poaching.

A similar row is likely over grey and minke whales, with Japan and Norway
seeking to downgrade the protection they enjoy. Hunting virtually wiped out
grey whale populations in the Atlantic and only about 22,000 are thought to
remain in the Pacific.

Perhaps the most unusual debate has been sparked by Cuba, which wants to reduce the protection afforded to the endangered hawksbill turtle. Japan has reportedly offered Fidel Castro's government several million pounds for 6,900 kg of shells stockpiled from turtles accidentally caught in nets.


"This type of consumption of "bushmeats" only further decreases already
endangered animals for nothing more than a good time, or good taste by
humans or some trinket of jewelry. But the disease implications transported
between countries is a huge issue of international concern seeming
overlooked. Furthermore, by consumption of some of these "bushmeats" we are likely setting ourselves up for more diseases, some of which we may not yet have recognized. - Mod. TG © 2000, Pro-Med" 

The number of zoonoses that have been transmitted via the consumption of
uncommon animal meats is large. It includes cases of human salmonellosis
from the consumption of animals ranging from monkeys (Lamabadusuriya, S.
P., Perera, C., Devasiri, I. V., Jayantha, U. K., Chandrasiri, N. 1992. An outbreak of salmonellosis following consumption of monkey meat. J Trop Med Hyg 95(4):292-5) to whales (Bender, T. R., T. S. Jones, W. E. DeWitt, G. J. Kaplan, A. R. Saslow, S. E. Nevius, P. S. Clark, and E. J. Gangarosa. 1972.  Salmonellosis associated with whale meat in an Eskimo community. Serologic and bacteriologic methods as adjuncts to an epidemiologic investigation. Am
J Epidemiol. 96:153-60; Boggild, J. 1969. Hygienic problems in Greenland.
Arch Environ Health. 18:138-43; Nakaya, R. 1950. Salmonella enteritidis in
a whale. Japanese Medical Journal. 3:279-80). Trichinellosis has been
acquired by consuming a wide variety of wild animals including not only
boars but bear (Bailey, T. M., and P. M. Schantz. 1990. Trends in the incidence and transmission patterns of trichinellosis (trichinosis) in humans in the United States: comparisons of the periods 1975-1981 and 1982-1986. Rev Infect Dis. 12:5-11), walrus (Margolis, H. S., J. P.  Middaugh, and R. D. Burgess. 1979. Arctic trichinosis: two Alaskan outbreaks from walrus meat. J Infect Dis. 139:102-5), cougar (Outbreak of trichinellosis associated with eating cougar jerky--Idaho, 1995. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1996 Mar 15;45(10):205-6), dog (Hou, H. W. 1983. Survey of an outbreak of trichinosis caused by eating roast dog meat. Chung Hua Yu Fang I Hsueh Tsa Chih. 17:109-10), jackal (Dissamarn, R., and P. Indrakamhang. 1985. Trichinosis in Thailand during 1962-1983. Int J Zoonoses. 12:257-66), and fox (Pampiglione, S., and L. Doglioni. 1971.  Osservazioni e ricerche su di un episodio epidemico di trichinosi verificatosi in provincia di Trento. Parassitologia. 13:241-55).
Toxoplasmosis may have been acquired via the consumption of undercooked kangaroo meat (Robson, J. M. B., R. N. Wood, J. J. Sullivan, N. J.
Nicolaides, and B. R. Lewis. 1995. A probable food borne outbreak of
toxoplasmosis. CDI. 19:517-522). Even plague, which is thought of as a
flea-borne disease, has been transmitted by the consumption of camel
(Christie, A. B., Chen, T. H., Elberg, S. S. 1980. Plague in camels and
goats: their role in human epidemics. J Infect Dis 141:724-6). - Man. Ed. DS]