By Hudson Gumbihi
Cheap bush meat is doing the rounds in Nairobi - and it could kill you.
Our investigations have established that many dining tables in the city are supplied with meat from buffalos, giraffes, zebras, gerenuks, kudus, dik diks, impalas, waterbucks, elands, gazelles, warthogs, among others.
And now conservationists warn that if authorities do not move fast to stop its supply, dangerous zoonotic diseases like anthrax, Rift Valley fever, dengue fever, Lyme disease and West Nile infections could strike with scientists estimating that more than six out of ten infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals.
Buffalo most hunted
“These diseases continue to pose serious health challenges particularly because no poachers or hunters involve trained veterinary officers in the inspection of the meat before consumption or sale,” warns Victor Mutumah, a programmes officer at Born Free Foundation.
“Whereas no thorough studies have been done on bushmeat markets, there is evidence that bushmeat is sold in parts of Nairobi, Mombasa, Naivasha, Nakuru, Voi, and much smaller market places and towns,” Mutumah says.
According to statistics from Born Free Foundation, between 2007 and 2009, the buffalo was the most hunted animal. In 2007, about 50 buffaloes were slaughtered, another 800 the following year, and 1,400 in 2009.
Giraffes came second with 400 killed in 2008, while in 2009, more than 1,000 were slaughtered. In 2007, no giraffe was killed. On April 21, three employees of two tented camps in Maasai Mara were found with 6,000 kilos of giraffe meat. Since last year, security agents have intercepted giraffe meat destined to Burma Market on the Narok-Mai Mahiu highway.
About 50 warthogs were killed in 2007, almost a similar number the following year before the figure shot up to 450 in 2009.
Eland meat was also on demand, with about 100 being trapped in 2007, before a drop to around 50 in 2008, and a subsequent increase to 122 in 2009.
In 2007, about 50 impalas were killed, with a slump to about 38 in 2008 before the number rose to about 150 in 2009.
Along the Naivasha/Nakuru stretch, the worst hit areas, according to the conservationist, are Kiungururia, Suswa, Gilgil, Karagita, Gatamaiyo and Ndabibi.
“There have been also reports of bushmeat being smuggled out of the country through the airports, sea and by road,” he adds.
Many times, the meat is sold to unsuspecting customers in places like Burma Market, either as ready meat or raw meat, says Iregi Mwenja, a consultant conservation biologist.
The meat is disguised as beef or mutton, and traders prefer it because they get triple the profit they make for legally acquired beef or mutton.
“Kenyans should be wary because this meat is not inspected and could carry zoonotic diseases. Possession of bushmeat is also illegal in Kenya, and one risks a serious sentence if found with it,” warns Mwenja. More....