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Wallisellen, Switzerland

Falk H.,University of Bern | Durr S.,University of Bern | Hauser R.,Federal Veterinary Office | Wood K.,Tengwood Organization | And 3 more authors.
OIE Revue Scientifique et Technique | Year: 2013

Illegal imports of meat can present substantial risks to public and animal health. Several European countries have reported considerable quantities of meat imported on commercial passenger flights. The objective of this study was to estimate the quantity of meat illegally imported into Switzerland, with a separate estimation for bushmeat. Data were obtained by participation in intervention exercises at Swiss international airports and by analysing data on seizures during the four-year period 2008 to 2011. The study revealed that a wide array of animal species was imported into Switzerland. From the database, the average annual weight of meat seized during the period analysed was 5.5 tonnes, of which 1.4% was bushmeat. However, in a stochastic model the total annual inflow of illegal meat imports was estimated at 1,013 tonnes (95% CI 226 to 4,192) for meat and 8.6 tonnes (95% CI 0.8 to 68.8) for bushmeat. Thus, even for a small European country such as Switzerland the quantities of illegally imported meat and meat products are substantial and the consequences for public and animal health could be high. To reduce the risk, it is essential that surveillance at European airports is harmonised and that passenger information campaigns clarify the consequences of the illegal import of meat, particularly bushmeat.

Morf N.V.,University of Zurich | Wood K.L.,Tengwood Organization | Koppel R.,Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich | Felderer N.,Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich | And 3 more authors.
Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series | Year: 2013

Airports are important hubs for bushmeat trade, that is, the illegal commercialization of wildlife meat, often from endangered species. While the identification of bushmeat species is sometimes possible morphologically, in most cases genetic characterization would be necessary for precise taxonomic identification. We validated a mtDNA-based species identification method for its application to bushmeat species imported into Switzerland. This method consists of a multiplex-PCR-setup with 8 primers varying in their specificity to amplify a region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cytb) gene in different animal classes (mammals, fishes and birds). We tested the method on meat (cooked, dried, smoked or raw) and blood samples from 24 different species, obtained from museums and butchers. Following successful PCR and sequencing, we identified the species of origin using BLAST alignments to the cytb entries in the NCBI nucleotide database. Our method also passed all validation criteria, including repeatability, reproducibility, and robustness. We then applied this method to identify the taxonomic origin of 250 samples of putative bushmeat confiscated at the airports of Zurich and Geneva between September 2011 and January 2013. For 224 samples, there was sufficient DNA to allow successful sequencing. The samples belonged to one of four vertebrate groups (mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes): approximately two thirds of the analyzed samples originated from wild animals, one third of which are listed in the CITES appendices. Our validated DNA method offers a practical and easy approach for the identification of bushmeat at airports and in general in wildlife forensics. © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

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