On 24 September, the Basel Institute on Governance reported on a recent webinar on zoonotic disease risks associated with the trafficking in bushmeat. It explained that bushmeat refers to meat harvested from wild animals in Africa, though the term can be applied to wild meat sold in Asia and South America as well. This can and often does include protected species, including apes and other primates. Perhaps surprising is the fact it reveals that the largest markets for bushmeat are in urban areas in Africa, where Africans purchase bushmeat as luxury foodstuffs preferable to farmed meat. In the DRC alone, one million tons of bushmeat flows to urban markets each year. Across Central and West Africa, as much as 5 million tons of bushmeat is consumed each year. It also mentioned that, in one study of bushmeat trafficking through Switzerland’s airports, over one-third of the species seized were CITES protected species, including pangolins, primates, duikers, tortoises and small carnivores. This was in addition to non-CITES-protected species such as rodents, wild pigs and other ungulates, reptiles, birds and invertebrates. Even more worringly, it said that 3 out of every 4 emerging diseases originate in animals, and this means it is only a matter of time before disease spillover occurs through the bushmeat trade, either in Africa or within the many bushmeat markets in Europe and beyond.
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