Exotic meats should stay off the menu

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I would be interested to know how chef Dev Biswal can be so certain that the habitat of the wild animals he will be selling is protected, or how he knows the animals will be hunted in a sustainable way.

Many of these animals are imported from politically unstable countries where laws protecting habitat and the poaching of threatened species are virtually unenforceable. Consequently, since the beginning of the twentieth century the global trade in exotic meat has grown from subsistence hunting into a fifty million dollar a year industry which thrives on corruption, bribes and poverty.

As our human population has ballooned and more demands have been made on the earth’s resources, the forests and habitats which once homed and protected animals are being opened up and destroyed. Logging and mining companies have built roads into previously inaccessible forests. These open roads make easy prey of previously inaccessible animals such as elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, birds and rodents. The greatest threats to wildlife are habitat destruction and our increased ability to hunt and trap animals throughout Asia and the whole of tropical Africa.

Some species of crocodile are already endangered and although bison, ostrich, kangaroo and python might not be on any endangered lists yet, not so long ago neither were tigers, gorillas, rhinos or orangutan.

Anyone truly concerned about issues of habitat protection and sustainability will not increase demand through buying exotic meats.

Indeed, given the growing recognition that we need to eat more vegetables and less meat because vegetables are the foods that do us the most good and our planet the least harm, perhaps we would all do well to take a leaf out of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s latest cookery book and reconsider the humble locally grown vegetable.

Jane Quarrington

Kings Avenue, Rye