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Keywords:

  • Bushmeat;
  • CITES;
  • customs;
  • illegal imports;
  • wildlife trade

Abstract

Concerns have been raised about the illegal import of bushmeat from Africa into Europe, particularly regarding the health risks posed to people and livestock. The role of international trade in driving unsustainable hunting in source countries is unknown, but generally assumed to be limited. Here, we present the first systematic study of the scale and nature of this international trade. We estimate that around five tonnes of bushmeat per week is smuggled in personal baggage through Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport. Bushmeat is not only imported for personal consumption but is part of a lucrative organized trade, with high prices indicating luxury status. A wide range of species is carried, many of which are CITES-listed. Based on these findings, we suggest ways in which customs, airlines, and airport authorities could reduce imports, focussing on raising awareness of regulations, and improving surveillance and deterrence, particularly where CITES-listed species are concerned.