groups » General Discussion Forum » Case study: A study of the trade in ‘bushmeat’ in London’s African markets
Please give us your comments on the following case study. This is a hypothetical study based on a real application from a resource poor country to study an illegal market of a sought after product with potentially serious public health implications.
It has recently been reported that as much as 10 tonnes of African bushmeat may be reaching London illegally each day. The meat often arrives in appalling condition and public health experts have argued that in addition to the immediate hazards, the imported meat presents an important risk of an outbreak of serious diseases such as foot and mouth, anthrax, and Ebola or Marburg viruses. Imports of wild meat, including parts of primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees, have increased dramatically as a result of the commercial hunting of up to 71 species. Last year there were 25,000 seizures at UK airports, a 62% increase over the previous year. Bushmeat is regularly smuggled into London in commercial quantities and can be found on sale in areas with African communities. The going rate for a smoked monkey is about £60. There are secret illegal markets in several European cities including London.
Currently, there is a lack of scientific information on the day-to-day practices underpinning the illegal bushmeat trade in London and about the motivations and experiences of the African communities who purchase it from these illegal vendors. Recently an African student interviewed by the BBC reported that buying bushmeat in London was not difficult. He said, ‘Once you know where to go, and who to talk to, it’s relatively easy to get hold of this stuff, most likely on a Saturday’.
Aims and Objectives
• To document the use patterns and perceptions of bushmeat among Africans in London
• To document street sellers’ perceptions of the health risks of bushmeat, the sale-chain of bushmeat and its handling
• To document suppliers, types of bushmeat sold, and frequency of use and cost
• To develop recommendations on improving the current system for preventing illegal import and sale
Ultimately this study aims to inform policy makers of illegal uses of bushmeat in London and to reduce the consumption of bushmeat through the development of appropriate policies with key stakeholders, and raising awareness of health risks.
Field research and data-collection
This research project will be in collaboration with a local community-based organisation. It will involve:
• Questionnaire to assess household bushmeat use, patterns and perceptions (n=150)
• Focus groups will be conducted with street sellers (n=25) to develop and pilot a questionnaire.
• The questionnaire to street sellers will be administered to sellers of bushmeat operating in the study communities. The questionnaire will capture demographic information, bushmeat sold, sellers’ knowledge and attitudes, health and safety knowledge, and information on the sale chain of bushmeat sold.
• Anthropological methods of participant observation and key informant discussions will be used to collect in-depth information on sale procedures and sourcing of bushmeat.
• A community forum will be established in the research site to encourage and engage families who are interested health issues and or controlling the import and use of bushmeat for ecological or other reasons. The forum will meet approximately four times during the research and will provide a platform to discuss issues arising in the research and to present research findings.
Risks to research subjects
There are no anticipated risks to participants.
Anticipated benefits to study subjects
Study subjects will benefit by gaining access to information that bushmeat can cause health risks.
Anticipated gain in knowledge
This research will provide information on present bushmeat in use, use patterns and potential risk factors, especially to poor urban children. This knowledge will inform others through publications and conferences, policy-makers through policy briefs and could lead to more effective action to enforce severe restrictions on bushmeat imports and sales. It will increase participants’ knowledge and awareness of the health risks.
The research will be anonymous and no identifying information about informants will be made accessible. This will be made clear in the consent form.