The huge influx of African invaders into Europe has resulted in a huge demand — far in excess of 44.4 tonnes — for illegal and often diseased wild ‘bushmeat’ from West and Central Africa which passes through Brussels National Airport each year:
Some of it remains in Belgium while the remainder transits through the country, according to a study by the Public Health Department in collaboration with the Biodiversity Platform and presented on Tuesday at a conference held in Brussels. However, the scope of the phenomenon is difficult to assess. Only meat imported illegally by passengers and intercepted by Customs at Zaventem Airport is covered by the estimates.
The illegal importation of bushmeat and other meat is the focus of Tuesday’s conference, whose theme was “Dead or Alive: Towards a Sustainable Wildlife Trade”. It brought together over a hundred experts with a view to reflecting on the implementation of recommendations for ending the illegal trade in wildlife and bushmeat, a practice that can have adverse consequences for human and animal health, biodiversity and the environment.
Highlights of the conference included the presentation of the results of analyses done on meat seized from the luggage of travellers from sub-Saharan Africa at the Brussels National Airport. These showed that 38% of the samples analysed came from wild animals and a third of these species were protected. The most common ones were pangolins, baboons, monkeys, antelopes and reptiles.
One study, focussing on the detection of micro-organisms, identified a carrier of the African swine virus in addition to bacteria that can cause gastro-enteritic problems.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) described trafficking in bushmeat and wild animals as a “scourge against biodiversity”. It urged Belgium’s Government and air transport sector to step up the fight against it by strengthening customs controls and raising awareness among travellers and the African diaspora.
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