Illegal chimpanzee meat is being served at weddings and sold on market stalls in the UK، it has been claimed، The Mirror website reported.
In the past month a ton of the animal's flesh - known as bush meat - was confiscated at customs as it came into the UK from West Africa، leading primate scientist Dr Ben Garrod said.
The meat can cause serious diseases as chimps are genetically similar to humans and it is often packaged in unsanitary environments.
Western chimpanzees are on the critically endangered species list due to threats to their environment and because their meat is considered a delicacy. "It's rife، it's in all major cities across Europe and the US،" the University of East Anglia professor told The Sunday Telegraph. "We have seen bush meat confiscated in the UK in checkpoints at borders and in markets. "It's often brought to the country for specific celebrations like a wedding or a Christening." World renowned chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall urged the government to take action and to introduce DNA testing at the border. She suggested that Interpol should up its efforts to stop the meat being taken across borders and suggested dogs could be trained to detect the product. Bush meat is easier than other contraband goods to smuggle because it is smoked and blackened، making it hard to identify. It can sell for as much as five times the price of prime cuts of beef or pork. The issue of illegal meat being imported into European countries is not a new one. During a 17 day period in 2010، 134 passengers from 29 flights were searched coming into Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Almost half were found to be carrying fish or meat from livestock or wild animals including crocodiles، primates and porcupines. In 2011 chimpanzee meat was found in the West Midlands during a trading standards raid. A spokesperson for the government said: "As well as working with enforcement and intelligence partners in the UK and international، Border Force continues to invest in training and equipment to ensure that we do all we can to intercept illegal foodstuffs and cracks down on smugglers."