Bushmeat, Homeland Security and Public Health

I mentioned bushmeat a few days ago. Now see this item in Nature,

Justin Brashares, a conservation ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has worked in bushmeat research for nearly a decade. When he was in New York two years ago, sitting in the back of a cab driven by a Ghanaian, they got talking about the wild meats of Ghana.

“You must miss it,” Brashares remembers saying.

“Well, I don’t really miss it,” the cab driver replied, “because I can get it.”

Thus began a research project in which African expatriate volunteers were recruited to cruise a local bushmeat market in New York, London, Brussels, Paris, Toronto, Montreal and Chicago, reporting back the kinds, conditions and quantities of African wild meat on offer.

Besides helping to wipe out wildlife, this trade is an obvious public health risk. It also shows that in spite of the billions spent on homeland security, borders are as porous as ever.

Many diseases are zoonoses. Recent examples include Ebola, Marburg, West Nile Virus, Avian Flu, and HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS jumped the species barrier to man most likely because chimpanzees and sooty mangabays were eaten as bushmeat. The increased consumption of bushmeat makes it more likely that other, as yet unknown viruses, will become threats to human health.

Our fellow primates belong in their native habitats, not on the dining table.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s