Yesterday I stumbled upon a report about the trade in African bushmeat. In 2008 researchers conducted a survey to see how much illegal bushmeat (also of species that appear on the CITES lists) is entering the European Union.
Place of action was the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. In 17 days a staggering amount of 188 kg of illegal meat was seized under those passengers being checked. It is therefore estimated that roughly 273 tons (!) arrive every year through Charles de Gaulle alone.
Bushmeat is a delicacy for many people living in Africa. It is illegally harvested in the bowels of the African rainforests and it is cheap. At least on the African market. A species of monkey weighing about four kilograms will fetch €20 on the market in Cameroon. In Paris it is being sold for about €30 per kilo. A nice profit.
In the report it states that fines are often not given to importers of meat since they seem unaware of being involved in something illegal. Something that is very doubtful if you hear the African in the below video speak about killing gorillas.
Most of the traders of the bushmeat in Paris are Africans and it is therefore safe to assume that the majority of the demand is created by African immigrants living in France. The main worry is that the non-African part of the French might start to develop a taste for the ‘delicacies’ as well, which could lead to a disastrous increase in this illegal trade. A trade that will only become more profitable with every animal that is being killed.
So why is bushmeat illegal in Europe?
First of all do the hunters in Africa not know which hunted species are on the CITES list which leads to a reduction of already vulnerable species. Secondly, since the imported meat falls outside every regulatory procedure, the chances of introducing illnesses to humans and lifestock is a potential danger.
But it is not only our stomachs that crave something exotic, also our eyes know how to appreciate it. It is estimated that between 2001 and 2006, six hundred thousand Brits bought souvenirs made of animal products, reason to start a massive awareness campaign in England.
Skins, teeth, ivory, tortoise shells and coral are still be bought under the impression that nothing is being done wrong since a lot of these products are legal in the country of origin. This does however not mean that they are legal in the country of residence. Something to be very aware of since the fines can be hefty.
When you are not sure if a souvenir is on the list of protected or illegal species, be smart and leave it for what it is. Even better, don’t buy animal products at all, even if they are legal.
The big question of course is what we expect the Africans to do who can’t even afford a decent meal. Should they refrain from hunting and exporting meat because we in the west say it is illegal? It is a tough question and an answer will not easily be found.