By Maria Cheng, Christina Okello
Experts checked 29 flights into Paris and found 11 types of bushmeat including monkeys, rats, crocodiles, antelopes and anteaters.
The traders sell an array of bushmeat: monkey carcasses, smoked anteater, even preserved porcupine.
But this isn't a roadside market in Africa — it's the heart of Paris, where a new study has found more than five tons of bushmeat slips through the city's main airport each week.
Experts suspect similar amounts are arriving in other European hubs as well — an illegal trade that is raising concerns about diseases ranging from monkeypox to Ebola, and is another twist in the continent's struggle to integrate a growing African immigrant population.
The research, the first time experts have documented how much bushmeat is smuggled into any European city, was published Friday in the journal Conservation Letters.
"Anecdotally we know it does happen ... But it is quite surprising the volumes that are coming through," said Marcus Rowcliffe, a research fellow of the Zoological Society of London and one of the study's authors.
In the Chateau Rouge neighborhood in central Paris, bushmeat is on the menu — at least for those in the know.
Madame Toukine, an African woman in her 50s, said she receives special deliveries of crocodile and other bushmeat each weekend at her green and yellow shop off the Rue des Poissonieres market. She wouldn't give her full name for fear of being arrested.
"Everyone knows bushmeat is sold in the area and they even know where to buy it," said Hassan Kaouti, a local butcher. "But they won't say it's illegal."
For the study, European experts checked 29 Air France flights from Central and West Africa that landed at Paris' Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport over a 17-day period in June 2008. More....