KWS Jan. 18th 2010. “KWS security officers in liaison with the Kenya Police today January 18, 2010 impounded at least 400kg of suspected game meat on its way to the famous Burma meat market, Eastland’s, Nairobi.” This is the upteenth time that we are getting reports of large amount of bushmeat destined for Burma market impounded by KWS and the Police. Other popular meat-eating places like City market and Kenyatta market are also outlets for this illegal meat. Flash back;
The Associated Press, July 9, 2007: KWS investigators have found that this trade has been going on for the past two months and the target markets are popular meat-eating places like Kenyatta Market and City Market. The game meat dealers sell their meat, passing it off as beef, at a low price of 65 Kenya shillings (US$1) per kg at these markets, said Paul Udoto, Kenya Wildlife Service communications manager.
The Kenya Wildlife Service officials are “concerned that this illegal trade is not only wiping out priceless wildlife but also posing great health risks to people. The uninspected meat has a very high risk of transmitting diseases like anthrax and Rift Valley Fever to people,” Udoto said.”
Capitals News, 3rd February2009: A Nairobi businesswoman at a popular meat eating Market downtown Nairobi was arrested with 74 kg of bush meat morning of Saturday.
Kenya Wildlife Service investigators seized the suspect who had hidden the bush meat under a butchery counter and was mixing it with inspected meat on display to sell to unsuspecting buyers.
The EastAfrica, 8th May, 2009: Just a few weeks ago, we intercepted a matatu with the aid of the police after a tip-off at 4am at Mlolongo. We retrieved a sack of bushmeat on the floor of the matatu. It had 256 kilos of wildebeest and zebra meat. But the offenders were released after a weekend in the cell. The judge set them free citing that they were first offenders!” The police know what’s going on but when the offenders are let off so lightly, it seems futile to bring offenders to the book
The list goes on……..
This is why you should avoid eating ‘nyama Choma’ or buying raw meat disguised as beef in these Nairobi markets
First, it is important to note that all meat from wild animals (not farmed) is illegal in Kenya. Bushmeat is therefore sold illegally disguised as beef. Butchers prefer this illegal meat because they buy it cheaply from the traders who ferry it to Nairobi from conservation areas nearby. This meat is not inspected for zoonotic diseases and poses a serious health risk to anyone coming in contact with the meat.
It is now clear that unsuspecting Kenya who patronize these popular ‘nyama choma’ joints are exposing themselves to great health risk. Those buying raw meat from their local butcheries are not safe either. Unscrupulous butchers looking for quick money buy bushmeat cheaply and sell it raw to their unsuspecting customers.
To avoid the danger of catching ebola, anthrax, monkey pox, anthrax, Rift Valley fever, marburg fever etc, avoid buying ready-made meat, minced meat and any suspicious looking pieces hidden under the counter or any reddish (blood) pieces particularly those that are boneless. Insist on getting all your meat from those parts hanging prominently on the display. This is because it would be very difficult to kill and transport a whole carcass clean without leaving blemishes on the meat. After all, game meat is clearly different from livestock meat and no one need to be an expert to tell. Just avoid that suspiciously looking lean dark red meat! This will keep you safe from many zoonotic diseases, some of which we don’t know anything about, while at the same time discouraging the thriving illegal trade in bushmeat, which is threatening to decimate our world famous wildlife heritage.
Iregi Mwenja is an alumnus of USFWS MENTOR Fellowship on Bushmeat in eastern Africa currently implementing bushmeat solutions project in Kenya