What is bushmeat and why is its importation illegal in the U.S.? Details explored as CBP dog sniffs out mummified monkeys in passenger’s luggage

Mummified mummies were intercepted at the Logan Airport last month (Representative Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash)
Mummified mummies were intercepted at the Logan Airport last month (Representative Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash)

Bushmeat of Mummified Monkeys is the last thing anyone really expects to encounter in an airport. On Monday, January 8, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection dog named Buddy sniffed out four "deceased and dehydrated monkeys" from a man at the Logan Airport. The passenger was returning to the United States after a Democratic Republic of Congo visit.

According to National Geographic, bushmeat is the phrase used to refer to the meat of wild animals, often killed in African forests or Savannahs. The meat is either completely raw or minimally processed and is illegal in the United States as it may carry a plethora of illness-causing germs including the Ebola virus.

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4 mummified monkeys were captured from Logan Airport in January

The National Geographic stated that bushmeat was the phrase used to refer to meat from wild animals, mostly the remains of animals from African Savannahs and forests. Bushmeat can come from a variety of animals that have been historically hunted in Africa, including bats, snakes, monkeys, antelopes, and even cane rats.

Bushmeat is vital to certain rural African communities as a source of protein when domestication is impractical and expensive. Money is also made through the hunting and selling of bushmeat, which has a growing market in urban areas as a unique and luxury delicacy.

TRIGGER WARNING: THE FOLLOWING IMAGE OF MUMMIFIED MONKEYS MAY BE DISTRESSING FOR SOME READERS.

4 kg of Bushmeat was intercepted (Image via X/@CBP)
4 kg of Bushmeat was intercepted (Image via X/@CBP)

On January 8, a man landed at the Logan Airport in Boston from aboard the Delta flight 225 from Paris. The man had returned to the United States after a Democratic Republic of Congo visit. During his preliminary baggage screening, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) K9 Buddy, a beagle, alerted his handler over a part of the man's luggage.

According to an official CBP statement released on February 9, on questioning, the man simply claimed the bag contained dried fish, which was apparently what the X-rays also showed but upon physical inspection, CBP officers discovered mummified monkeys, bushmeat from four "dead and dehydrated" bodies of monkeys to be exact.

Buddy, the k9 who sniffed out the bushmeat (Image via X/@CBP)
Buddy, the k9 who sniffed out the bushmeat (Image via X/@CBP)

Bushmeat carries a communicable disease risk and is illegal in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was immediately contacted. The 4 kilograms of mummified monkeys were requested to be detained and marked for destruction. AP cited a CPB spokesperson who said that the man had brought home the mummified monkeys for personal consumption.

Julio Caravia, Area Port Director – CBP Boston said in a statement,

"The potential dangers posed by bringing bushmeat into the United States are real,"

He added,

"Bushmeat can carry germs that can cause illness, including the Ebola virus. The work of CBP’s K9 unit and Agricultural Specialist were vital in preventing this potential danger from entering the U.S."

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National Geographic stated that people whose body fluids come into contact with bushmeat may get a zoonotic disease. This kind of disease can spread between animals and humans. Undercooked bushmeat may not kill all pathogens, leaving everyone involved in the process at risk.

Scientific findings have indicated that primates, including the aforementioned mummified monkeys, and others could even spread HIV to their hunters and butchers.

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Edited by Nicolaas Ackermann