Letter: Eating apes

Sir, The discovery that HIV comes from chimpanzees (report, 1 February) is further evidence of the dangers of Africa's escalating trade in meat from wild animals - known as bush meat. Now that the link with HIV has been established, more pressure than ever should be applied to ensure that governments throughout west and central Africa take action to control the timber trade and prevent the widespread killing of protected species.

Our investigations have shown how chimpanzees, along with other endangered species, are being hunted commercially on a daily basis. The meat, which is sold at prices above that of farmed species, is supplied to workers in logging concessions and distributed widely to markets in towns and cities. The growth of logging in this region has opened access to previously inaccessible areas and has been the main contributory factor in enabling this trade to flourish.

JONATHAN OWEN

World Society for the Protection of Animals

London SW8

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