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Begging for Trouble with 'Bushmeat'

The bushmeat trade threatens wildlife species with extinction and poses serious health risks to humans.

"Bushmeat" refers to the flesh of wild animals primarily found in forests of Asia and Central and West Africa. The bushmeat trade involves consumption of threatened and endangered species from these areas, including elephants, antelope and primates.

Experts estimate that the bushmeat trade could eliminate all viable populations of African apes within the next five to 15 years.

Consumption of bushmeat has been linked to zoonoses, including anthrax, ebola, monkeypox, SARS and foot and mouth disease. In 2010, researchers testing bushmeat smuggled into the United States found strains of a virus in the same family as the human immunodeficiency virus. During a 2004 Society for Conservation Biology meeting at Columbia University, scientists concluded that the bushmeat trade is a main factor in the emergence of new diseases.

Former New York City Health Commissioner Pascal Imperato has stated: "It just takes one piece of meat that's infected with ebola virus for us to have a major disaster on our hands."

The international community has expressed serious alarm over the global bushmeat trade, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) approved a resolution in 2004 specifically calling for global action on this issue.

Read about what the Born Free Foundation is doing to combat the bushmeat trade, including its survey of butcher shops in Nairobi, Kenya.

Find out how the film "Mizoga" takes on the bushmeat trade.