By Gerald Tenywa
KAMPALA City residents fond of eating game meat face the risk of catching deadly diseases including ebola.
In a press statement, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) warned that the game meat being sold in Kampala was a mixture of baboon, monkey meat and other game such as antelopes and buffaloes.
UWAâ€™s head Moses Mapesa warned that diseases such as ebola were likely to crop up if people continued feasting on the bush meat.
He said a recent survey carried out by UWA officials against illegal hunting in the Kafu basin showed that baboon and monkey meat is mixed with that of antelopes and sold in areas as far as Kampala.
Kafu basin runs along river Kafu and goes through Masindi, Nakasongola, Luweero, Kiboga and Mubende districts.
Mapesa said because poaching, trade and consumption of game meat is illegal, most of the activities are done at night in slums or unlicensed places. He said consequently, registered veterinarians do not inspect the meat.
â€œUWA therefore warns the public against consumption of any wild animal meat. It is illegal, it is a health hazard and robs the country of foreign exchange through tourism,â€™â€™ the statement said.
Baboons are closely related to humans because they share over 90% of the genetic material. This close genetic relation increases the risk of spreading certain diseases.
â€œBaboons are closely related to humans and the cultural and ethical norms in Uganda do not
permit us to feast on our close relatives. It is therefore an abominable act,â€™â€™ Mapesa said.
UWAâ€™s statement also warned people involved in the illegal trade that they risk other fatal infections through consuming wild animal products, contact with live animals or carcasses and through indirect exposure to contaminated soil or leaves while hunting.
He said they also risk catching diseases through living organisms such as ticks, rodents and mosquitoes. He said infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites pass on the diseases.
Dr. Richard Ssuna, a manager under the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, blamed the trade in primate meat on Congolese refugees who have settled near the game reserves.
He said the dangerous culture was being adopted by Ugandans.
UWA said the trade in primate meat had been reported in western Uganda and near Murchison Falls Conservation Area.
Mapesa said the deadly outbreaks of viral diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola have been associated with eating primates in the neighbouring countries. He said the trade was endangering tourism that contributes US$200m (about sh400b) a year to the national coffers.