Wednesday 28 June 2017

Bush meat 'smuggled into Paris'

Crocodile was among meats found being smuggled into Paris from Africa
Crocodile was among meats found being smuggled into Paris from Africa

A study has found that more than five tonnes of bush meat, including monkey carcasses, smoked anteater, even preserved porcupine, slips through Paris's main airport each week.

Experts suspect similar amounts are arriving in other European hubs as well - an illegal trade that is raising concerns about diseases ranging from monkeypox to Ebola, and is another twist in the continent's struggle to integrate a growing African immigrant population.

The research, the first time experts have documented how much bush meat is smuggled into any European city, was published in the journal Conservation Letters.

"Anecdotally we know it does happen ... But it is quite surprising the volumes that are coming through," said Marcus Rowcliffe, a research fellow of the Zoological Society of London and one of the study's authors.

In the Chateau Rouge neighbourhood in central Paris, bush meat is on the menu - at least for those in the know.

Madame Toukine, an African woman in her 50s, said she receives special deliveries of crocodile and other bush meat each weekend at her green and yellow shop off the Rue des Poissonieres market. She wouldn't give her full name for fear of being arrested.

"Everyone knows bush meat is sold in the area and they even know where to buy it," said Hassan Kaouti, a local butcher. "But they won't say it's illegal."

For the study, European experts checked 29 Air France flights from Central and West Africa that landed at Paris' Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport over a 17-day period in June 2008.

Of 134 people searched, nine had bush meat and 83 had livestock or fish.

Experts found 11 types of bushmeat including monkeys, large rats, crocodiles, small antelopes and pangolins, or anteaters. Almost 40 per cent were listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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