A leading primate scientist has claimed chimpanzee meat is being sold on market stalls in cities in the UK and across Europe after being smuggled from Africa.
Humans share about 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees, making them our closest living relatives. However this hasn’t stopped humans from seeking out chimpanzee meat and eating it as a delicacy on special occasions.
Dr Ben Garrod, from the University of East Anglia, said chimpanzee meat is being sold in UK cities under the name ‘bush meat’.
He claimed to have been told by border force just a few weeks ago a ton of bush meat from West Africa had been confiscated on a flight heading to the US.
Unilad report: The scientist explained the meat was regularly smuggled into the UK and mainland Europe and could be found in a number of major cities.
To help prevent against smuggling, there have been calls for the border force agency to introduce DNA testing to allow them to identify meat at customs. The agency has said it would be investing in new technology to tackle the rising issue.
According to The Telegraph, Dr Garrod said:
It’s rife. It’s there – it’s in all the major cities across Europe and the US.
We have seen bush meat confiscated in the UK in check points at borders and in markets.
As well as appearing in British markets, the scientist claimed chimpanzee meat is served as a delicacy at weddings and christenings.
From what I know, I can’t imagine why people would want to eat chimpanzee, but most bush meat that comes to the UK is seen as a luxury food – it’s the equivalent of us wanting game.
Dr Garrod pointed out the dangers of the bush meat, explaining it could cause the spread of serious diseases such as Ebola as a result of being unsanitary and because chimps are very similar genetically to humans. He said the next ‘big pandemic’ could be spread through the illegally traded meat.
Dr Jane Goodall, who founded primate charity the Jane Goodall institute, reiterated the scientist’s concern, saying:
The smuggling of bush meat is a very alarming issue.
As Ben Garrod says, there is danger of disease spreading from the bush meat to humans.
A government spokesperson addressed the issue, saying:
We take the smuggling of any contraband extremely seriously.
As well as working with enforcement and intelligence partners in the UK and internationally, Border Force continues to invest in training and equipment to ensure that we do all we can to intercept illegal foodstuffs and crack down on smugglers.
Hopefully border force will find an effective way to put a stop to the smuggling of bush meat.