Airport customs dog sniffs out something unusual in passenger's luggage - mummified monkeys

This undated photo shows the mummified remains of four monkeys seized from a traveller who'd been to the Democratic Republic of Congo before arriving at Boston Logan Airport.
This undated photo shows the mummified remains of four monkeys seized from a traveller who'd been to the Democratic Republic of Congo before arriving at Boston Logan Airport. Copyright Customs and Border Protection via AP
By Angela Symons with AP
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Bushmeat is illegal in the US due to the risk of viruses.

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A US Customs and Border Protection dog sniffed out something unusual in luggage from a traveller returning from Africa - mummified monkeys.

The passenger returning from a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo reported that the luggage contained dried fish, but an inspection at Boston Logan Airport revealed the dead and dehydrated bodies of four monkeys, agents said. 

The traveller said he brought the monkeys into the US for his own consumption, Ryan Bissette, a CPB spokesperson, said on Sunday.

Raw or minimally processed meat from wild animals, sometimes referred to as 'bushmeat', is banned in the US because of the threat of disease.

Bushmeat poses risks of illness

"The potential dangers posed by bringing bushmeat into the United States are real. Bushmeat can carry germs that can cause illness, including the Ebola virus,” said Julio Caravia, local port director for Customs and Border Protection.

The incident happened last month but was made public on Friday.

Bissette said on Sunday that no charges were filed but all of the luggage was seized and the nearly four kilograms of bushmeat were marked for destruction by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Does Europe have a problem with bushmeat smuggling?

Wildlife trafficking is a major problem in Europe, prompting a major enforcement operation in October in which over 2,000 illegal imports of endangered animals and protected timber were seized.

Although the scale of the illegal bushmeat trade is hard to assess, as the type of meat is often indiscernible and airports lack the resources to test imports, Brussels and Paris are key hubs for smugglers.

Researchers estimate that 3.9 tonnes of bushmeat is smuggled through Brussels airport every month, including crocodiles, pangolins and monkeys. Much of this is thought to be destined for organised trade.

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