photo: Bruce Thomson via flickr.
A new angle on the commercial bushmeat trade has been documented in the journal Conservation Letters, the first time the illegal trade has been quantified through a European airport. Five tons of primate, crocodile and pangolin, in total eleven species, were trafficked through France's Charles de Gaulle airport in a single week. Researchers estimate that that total for the year may be about 270 tons of bushmeat.
Nearly 40% of Meat From Endangered Species
Mainly coming from the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the meat was confiscated after searching 134 passengers over a period of 17 days. The single largest seizure was of 51 kilograms of bushmeat, from a passenger carrying no other luggage. 39% of the confiscated bushmeat was from species listed by CITES.
Report co-author Dr Marcus Rowcliffe, from the Zoological Society of London, described the trade as a "lucrative, organized...luxury market." A single four kilogram monkey which fetches €5 in Cameroon will trade for €100 ($124) in France.
Customs Officials Have Little Incentive to Stop Trade
Dr Rowcliffe notes, "Importing bushmeat is relatively easy as customs officials are given no financial incentives to uncover illegal meat imports, compared with the bonuses they're awarded for drug and counterfeit seizures. Also, penalties are very low for people caught carrying illegal meat."
More on Bushmeat:
Bushmeat Trade in Central Africa Severely Underestimated - Increases as Forest Cover Declines
Commercial Ape Bushmeat Trade Twice as bad as Subsistence Hunting
25 Most Endangered Primate Species Could "Fit Into Single Football Stadium"