The bush meat trade, including primates, occurs across west Africa. Photo: Dawn Starin
Special report: Horrific bush-meat trade stalks Guinea-Bissau
29th September 2010
In a remarkable and harrowing dispatch from Guinea-Bissau, Dawn Starin reports how logging, mining and agriculture are opening up the country's once intact forests to the ravages of the growing bush-meat trade, threatening some of the country's most enigmatic monkey species
‘I eat monkey whenever I can,’ says Angela, a Guinean health worker at one of the major hospitals in the capital Bissau. ‘Often I go with my son and we pay 2000 CFA (the equivalent of $4.12) for four or five pieces of monkey and a loaf of bread. I prefer mona monkey but I'll eat anything on offer unless I'm pregnant. Pregnant women can't eat monkey because they will end up having kids who act like monkeys and that's a problem.’
Angela takes me to her local monkey butcher in Bissau. At two o'clock in the afternoon he has already sold out but, he says ‘come back tomorrow and I'll have more.’ He buys monkeys everyday; monas and baboons and sometimes red colobus and black and white colobus – all of them from Gabu in the eastern part of the country. According to the butcher, 'they come by boat and they come by road and they come everyday.’
Jose, a poet/artist/accountant who has travelled far and wide – and knows the works of Picasso and Michelangelo – sits in his local monkey restaurant drinking coke and beer and smoking cigarettes. While waiting for a plate of monkey stew he shows me his many pencil drawings. Detailed portraits of Amilcar Cabral,...
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