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Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Zoo joins campaign to end 'bushmeat' trade
Bushmeat
'London is becoming a centre for bushmeat trade'
London Zoo wants visitors to sign a petition to pressure African governments to end the trafficking of meat from wild animals.

It is part of a European campaign to raise two million signatures against the business.

Clare Robinson, the zoo's head of education, says London is becoming a centre for the so-called 'bushmeat' trade.

"There's about a million tons of meat coming out of equatorial Africa every year. That's about the same as four million cows," she said.

Endangered species

"This is mostly going to parts of Africa, but it is also going to Europe and has now reached parts of Britain."

She said they were concerned because "in 30 years' time we could lose the big apes from central Africa and lots of other species as well".

This month Mobolaji Osakuade, 40, and his girlfriend Rose Kinnane, 35, were jailed for four months for selling bushmeat from their company in Dalston market.

The judge in the trial said this kind of trade threatened the future of endangered species.

Freezers full of wild animal meat, including antelope and squirrel, were found at their shop.

Lion
Whole lions were offered for sale
Judge Peter Fingret said that it is "important that the public at large are made aware of the necessity of the conservation of endangered animals".

He added that anyone who dealt in 'bushmeat' must know that they faced jail.

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

Scientists and researchers from the London Zoological Society are also putting together a study into the trade in western and central Africa, which could be responsible for the world's great apes becoming extinct within 20 years.

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