Meat from wild animals including primates is being sold in clandestine markets in North America and Europe, according to scientists on Wednesday.
LONDON Meat from wild animals including primates is being sold in clandestine markets in North America and Europe, according to scientists on Wednesday.
Wildlife biologist Justin Brashares, of the University of California, Berkeley, and a team a volunteers tracked down the illicit trade in Paris, Brussels, London, New York, Montreal, Toronto and Los Angeles.
"I have 27 records of chimpanzee and gorilla parts being sold in markets," Brashares told New Scientist magazine.
"In each case it was not a complete body, but a hand, leg or in two cases, a head," he added.
Bushmeat is meat from wild animals including gorilla, chimpanzee, forest antelope, crocodile and bush pig. It is a food staple among forest-dwelling communities in Africa and a source of income for thousands of people.
But the hunting and sale of wild animal meat is a threat to endangered species and also poses a health risk because eating bushmeat has been linked to fatal illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola.
Brashares stumbled upon the illegal trade after a chance conversation two years ago with a Ghanaian taxi driver in New York who took him to a market in a warehouse in Brooklyn.
"I was shocked that open markets sell large quantities of African bushmeat in major cities outside of Africa," Brashares added.
At a meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology last month he said 6,000 kg (13,230 lb) of bushmeat moves through the seven markets each month.
Small antelopes called Duikers were the most common type of bushmeat in the markets but Brashares said meat from primates, rodents, reptiles and birds was also being sold.