By Henry Samuel
Paris police who raided an “exotic foodstore” this week came away with five frozen porcupines, 15 gazelles, 20 bats and an array of caterpillars — all illegally imported from Africa.
In all, police carted off 200 lbs of bush meat belonging to the unfortunate animals stored in three freezers in the unnamed shop situated in a run-down part of Paris’ 18th arrondissement. The owner is due to be quizzed by French justice “shortly”.
“This meat came with absolutely no hygiene guarantees, and is thus unfit for (human) consumption,” a source close to the inquiry told Le Parisien.
It was not immediately clear whether food authorities would have given the food the all clear had the meat made it through hygiene hurdles.
“Without knowing the specific species concerned of porcupine, gazelle or bat it is difficult to say whether or not they would be granted an import licence,” said Mark Powell of the UK management body of CITES, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species.
“But it is highly possible that they would be from animals on the endangered species list therefore it would be illegal to import or sell them,” he told the Telegraph.
Investigators have ascertained that all the forbidden food was imported from the Central African Republic, where France has just launched a military operation to prevent spiralling interreligious violence.
Ironically, endangered species are on the menu, along with climate change, of trade talks in Paris between more than 500 African and French business leaders on Saturday. They are meeting on the sidelines of a summit on peace and security in the presence of president François Hollande and around 30 African heads of state. More....