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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Illegal 'bushmeat' traders jailed
Bushmeat is on open sale in some shops
Two shopkeepers have each been jailed for four months for smuggling endangered animals into Britain as part of an illegal "bushmeat" trade.

Mobolaji Osakuade, 40, and his 35-year-old live-in girlfriend Rose Kinnane received the prison sentences at the Old Bailey in London on Friday morning after being convicted by a jury three weeks ago.

It is clearly for the greater good of society and of our planet that controls on bushmeat trade are stringently enforced

Judge Peter Fingret
The couple ran a highly lucrative service aimed at African expatriates prepared to pay high prices for exotic fare, including smuggled "bushmeat", a term used to describe game hunted in tropical forests.

The lucrative enterprise, which could have caused outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease as well as salmonella infections, involved protected monkeys, giant scaly anteaters and other animals being offered as part of a menu of jungle dishes.

Snakes and lizards

From their company in London's Dalston market, the couple also sold banned snake and lizard skins for traditional ethnic medicines, and offered tiger and leopard parts to anyone who could afford them.

Sentencing in the first bushmeat case to come before an English court, Judge Peter Fingret said that the type of monkey involved could become extinct if the trade in them was not regulated.

"It is therefore important that the public at large are made aware of the necessity of the conservation of endangered animals," he said.

As Kinnane fought back tears, he continued: "I fully acknowledge that such legislation goes against the beliefs and practises of many people, but it is clearly for the greater good of society and of our planet that such controls exist and are stringently enforced."

Judge Fingret said anyone who dealt in bush meat must know that they faced jail.

During their trial at Southwark Crown Court, the jury heard how Osakuade and Kinnane, made thousands of pounds from the gruesome trade.
Whole lions were offered for sale

They offered whole lions at 5,000 each, antelope, porcupines, goats, cane rats and large, live snails, all from the wilds of West Africa.

The couple were arrested after an undercover journalist began investigating their activities.

Posing as a nephew of a tribal chief, Eddie Achunche visited the couple's Mercyland Trading store in east London.

He said he needed the left hand, heart and head of a monkey to prepare a traditional meal for his uncle.

He paid a 200 deposit in return for an assurance that so long as he had the cash he could put any animal on his shopping list.

Secret filming

He later returned with a hidden video camera, and after paying a 150 balance, was presented with the complete body of a smoked Tantulus primate along with an array of spices and a recipe for peppered monkey soup.

Mr Osakuade, 40, from Dulwich, south London, who earlier admitted being knowingly concerned in the monkey's importation and its sale, was convicted of eight other charges concerning the acquisition and keeping for sale of a python skin, various lizard skins, and a lizard skin handbag.

He was cleared of two counts involving an anteater.

Ms Kinnane, 35, was found guilty of committing 10 offences - including those involving the anteater - between September and October 1999.

Two charges concerning the handbag were allowed to lie on the file after the jury failed to reach verdicts.

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