African Dog Meat Traditions and Disease – Graphic
Recently my visit to Africa have become quite intense over the past few years travelling mostly north west and east to Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, Somalia and Angola I have been investigating the pet meat and bush meat trade that receives very little mention within the animal rights theatre and world of conservation.
Pet meat trade within Africa was fairly unheard of and still is to this day, most trades are either in villages remotely cut off from much larger cities or from what I myself I have investigated and researched seen only a small minority of pet meat consumption within “indigenous” tribal lands. One cannot just enter these small remote villages and begin photographing markets that host a wide range of animal and human parts too. Yes I did state human body parts mainly within the regions of Ghana on the Voodoo markets. I state you cannot just enter these markets and begin photographing unless of course you wish to become a “part of the bench stall”.
Why did I begin investigating the pet meat trade deep within the north and Central African Republic? Within the past decade there has been quite a significant increase in disease and deaths within the visited Africans zones that host “pet meat trade”. I am also somewhat frustrated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) either seems completely oblivious to this truth or are deliberately concealing information in some way to try and play down increasing deaths from Rabies, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Coronavirus all of which are increasing within Africa and pose a significantly high bio-hazard threat to the world population.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and Say No To Dog Meat.Net an Australian and Africans/European registered organisation and Environmental Company are now working on specific missions to now decrease pet meat consumption trade mainly within the north and Central African Republic thus creating awareness, educations and implementing sustainable agriculture practices as well as helping to establish water safe zones that shall be spoken more about in next week’s article.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa mission’s within Africa with regards to the pet meat trade I have highlighted below for your information;
- Reduction of Rabies, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and Coronavirus cases via promoting sound and professional education, awareness, vaccination and meat alternatives.
- Pet care – Trap Neuter and Return – to reduce stray populations thus decreasing pet meat consumption.
- Food safety – Professional food and hygiene education and awareness of which is aimed at reducing “food borne viruses” entering the food chain from contaminated pet meat thus decreasing illness, death and contagious cross infection. I.A.R.F Europa is also working on implementing plans to educate mainly the male population that use dogs to hunt. It has been noted that dogs used to hunt within Liberia for example have brought back to the local communities Ebola virus. Strategies on reducing this danger are being worked on rapidly to reduce death and disease. To help please send a donation to us hereto that will help immensely. Alternatively you can donate via our main communications site here.
- Water preservation – education and awareness of greener arable agricultural practices that we hope will reduce the need to hunt and kill pets within local remote communities that are under great strain from the effects of climate change. Climate change has ravished the African continent leaving many without water to farm or care for cattle. Working with Africans communities and engineers we hope to eradicate this problem within pet meat consumption villages. Turkana within Kenya is one prime example of which has seen climate change ravish the entire area forcing people to eat dog and cat meat. Local communities are as of April 2014 now receiving some help from international organisations.
International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa mission is aimed at the following countries within the continent of Africa; Please note we have not included Madagascar of which is still under scrutiny from ground operatives detailing the bush meat trade.
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Recently I have been working just over the border of Benin in Togo where dog meat and bush meat trade is rampant of which is threatening the world’s population should any form of the above mentioned viruses find their way to Europe, America or Asia. Research is still being hampered by the lack of education and awareness in the country of which rabies cases are increasing. It appears even if the infected victim is showing signs of rabies they’ll still be consumed regardless of what the after effects will be onto the human consumer[s].
The increase in consumption of dog heads in the Bongo District is said to be hampering research efforts into rabies cases reported at the district hospital in the area. Dogs suspected to carry rabies, popularly known as “mad dogs” among the people, are killed and eaten, including the heads that are usually the part that is examined to determine the presence of rabies. The consumption of the dog meat has gone up in recent times in the district, with residents now desiring it during their leisure times. Dog meat is usually not used in preparing meals at home because of the belief that not everyone takes the meat.
This was made known on Monday [5 Apr 2010], when Dr Vivian Brusset Cisneros, a Cuban doctor, presented a paper on the epidemiology of rabies in the Bongo Hospital at the 11th Regional Scientific Workshop between Ghanaian doctors and their Cuban counterparts in the Upper East Region. She said the practice hindered effective research into arriving at conclusive decisions on suspected rabies-related deaths. She said so far the hospital has recorded about 101 suspected rabies cases, of which 47 have been treated and discharged with 5 people losing their lives.
Dr Cisneros indicated that in December last year , 19 dog bites were recorded and said that the majority of the reported cases came from Namoo, a frontier with Burkina Faso and Bongo central. She said that a dog census conducted put the number in the Bongo District at 8217, with only 1843 of them vaccinated against rabies. Dr Cisneros said that if the rabies scare in the area is to be contained, then dog owners should vaccinate their dogs.
The Regional Director of Health Service, Dr John Koku Awoonor Williams, called for a strong surveillance system at the district level to check outbreaks of all kinds of diseases. He said the idea about sending data to the Regional Directorate from the district level, without analyzing them, slowed down the alarm system [for] disease outbreaks. [Previously in 2009, it was reported that: “The people of Bongo are living in fear now with every passing moment and demand the immediate supply of anti-rabies vaccines for the treatment of infected persons. They are also calling on the veterinary division of the Ministry of Agriculture to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to vaccinate all dogs and possibly cats to prevent further spread of the disease.”
It is difficult from the present report to estimate the extent of the problem, but there appears to have been human cases (5 fatalities out of a possible 47 cases presenting for post-exposure prophylaxis). It is similarly difficult to estimate the extent of the diagnostic problem. Perhaps the dearth of canine heads is no more than an original bureaucratic excuse for inactivity. Please note these figures are only for the period of 2009 of which will be updated within the next few months from our field veterinarians.
Stray dog meat and the risk of rabies in Nigeria is becoming quite a concern for us. While rabies is a preventable zoonosis with very high mortality, dog meat remains a delicacy among some communities if not (all communities) in southern Nigeria. Thus far there have been a reported 10 cases of rabies following consumption of dog meat this year (2014). All the 10 patients died. Authors of Rabies research have called for culling of stray dogs, control of trade in dog meat, and provision of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This is by far more easily said than practiced when people’s livelihoods depend on pet trade regardless of whether the meat is infected with rabies, sars, or Ebola virus.
About 55,000 people worldwide die of rabies every year, 44% of them in Africa and yet the (World Health Organisation) still fail to make public the immense risks of consuming dog meat in Nigeria even though International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa has shown evidence year after year.
Togo – A tourists account of the Togolese’s Dog Meat Trade
The Evela wrestling ceremony or just Evela ceremony takes place every summer in Kabye villages around Togo. The Kabye people are an ethnic group from the North, known to eat dog. In the morning, the young men douse themselves in talcum powder and wrestle in a giant circle. On the outside of the circle, and in trees scattered around the village, hang dead dogs. Strung up by their necks, the dogs dangle lifelessly with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. I watch the men go through the same routines they do with goats. Light a fire. Burn off the hair. Cut off the head. Place burnt head on stake. Make dog-kebabs. International Animal Rescue Foundation is formulating a petition against this cruel and barbaric ceremony.
I enter a straw hut with my friends and two other PC volunteers who have already made the decision not to try dog meat. But I have been talking for weeks about how I was going to try dog at this festival, so I couldn’t back out at this point. As I take my first bite, my friends note how I am noticeably shaking. I struggle to keep a steady hand as I pop the gristly morsel into my mouth. While I chewed my mind was bombarded with visions of all the dogs I have ever had. Kacy chasing the tennis ball. Abby fogging up the glass on our front door. As I take a second and third piece, and chew through the fat and the pieces of skin with fur still attached, I try to pinpoint the flavor. Not quite chicken but not quite beef. Then I realize, and maybe this is my mind playing tricks on me, the meat tastes exactly how a dog’s breath smells. I gag on the fourth piece. I take two shots of Sodabe (palm wine) and decide I’m done here.
History of Evela wrestling and Dog Meat Consumption
Picture above depicts the Kabye young boys wrestling as part of the ceremonial ritual. The event will again take place this July 2014 of which will see dogs and cats brutalised for traditional beliefs. Picture below depicts the same tribe of which the dog is supposedly seen as (sacred). Please view video below.
Boys – well 18, 19, 20 year old “boys” can’t consider themselves men or taste dog meat until they fight in Evala, a coming of age intra-village wrestling match. One-on-one, contenders from Kabye villages (Kabye is one of the major ethnic groups in Togo) take on opponents attempting to outmanoeuvre or outman them until their opponent’s butt hits the sand. Weeding out the finest wrestlers from the village stock, the dozen or so best represent their village clad in Rocky-style gym shorts in front of a crowd of cheering Kabye citizens, out of place European tourists, the odd peace corps volunteer and on occasion President Faure (who comes from a Kabye village and took down a few wrestlers in his day). The annual rite of passage comes with some benefits. Aside from eating dog meat for the first time, which is strictly a man’s delicacy in Kabye culture (Ça donne la force!), the wrestlers can marry after fighting in Evala for three years.
A male Kabye friend told me, “You aren’t considered anything if you didn’t fight. And men who placed high are respected in their villages.” He said if two boys were going after the same girl, and one of them was a champion the other boy would step down respecting the other’s rank.
And the ultimate fighter, the one left standing at the end of the week, gets to choose any Kabye girl, taken or not, as his wife or companion. That last spoil has repelled some progressive Kabye citizens from celebrating Evala. The prefet explained that the traditional ceremony stands as a test and proof of the stamina and power of the Kabye people who are always ready to defend their communities.
“They pass from adolescents to adults taking a step in the school of life,” the prefet wrote. Akpema, the younger, less noticed sister of Evala, is the female version of the boys’ rite of passage. For the next few weeks during Akpema, girls – well 16 – 20 year old girls will walk around village in their underwear or barely clothed– traditionally they do this nude. They perform ceremonial rites in order to be accepted by their family as a “good woman”.
The consumption of dog meat is an important aspect in the course of the three-year initiation process, the dog being considered cunning, enduring, courageous, smart and faithful, all of which qualities the evalon needs to be able to defeat his opponents during the fights. During the week preceding the competition, the evala get ready by going in isolation and by stuffing themselves with dog meat. They refrain from shaking hands with girls and from having sex, in an effort to keep their physical and psychological potentials to the maximum. After the three-year initiation, the evala must never eat dog meat again. Which is quite surprising as dog meat is noted as being consumed in Togo on a regular daily basis.
Rabies cases still remain the highest within Africa of which Southern Africa we have yet to locate “any evidence” on dog and cat meat consumption and trade, however rabies cases within impoverished “South African zones” has been noted to be on the increase of which we are still currently investigating. Nigeria still remains the continents highest rabid infectious areas of which is being tackled however not as quickly as one would like it to be. The myth that dog meat is only consumed in the south of Nigeria we can officially debunk. Dog meat we have witnessed not only being sold on the streets in the north but also consumed within market stalls in strict Muslim populated areas of which dog meat is strictly prohibited under Islamic law. Slaughter of any animal under Islamic law must also be “humane” which brings one to ask are the pictures above and below considered humane. The dog took over 4.7 minutes to perish, even after having its throat slit with a rusty panger the animal was still withering in pain, still moving, still yelping. Wagging its tail too which was somewhat quite emotionally upsetting for myself to view being a dog lover.
Rabies, though a vaccine preventable disease, still accounts for the death of over 50,000 people worldwide; 95% of these fatalities were apportioned to Africa and Asia while 98% of the cases were caused by rabies infected dog bite. Worldwide, lines of evidence abound supporting the fact that dogs shed rabies virus in their saliva (Nottidge, 1994). Fekadu et al. have established that rabies infected dogs that recovered shed rabies virus in their saliva intermittently, and this shedding continued for about 7 months while the dog remained apparently healthy; this represents a carrier status which was previously described in Nigeria. Inapparent infection and recovery from clinical disease with resultant persistent or intermittent shedding of rabies virus have affected the overall effort in rabies eradication and control in most parts of the world. The most dangerous aspect of carrier dogs is that bites from such dogs are usually not recognized as an exposure that will stimulate appropriate postexposure treatment. Consequently human deaths occur from exposure buried in an erratic incubation period where dogs show no sign suggestive of rabies.
Abia State shares border with Cross River State. Recently, 8 people died and the cause was traced to dog bite. Those dogs were disposed of before reports got to Veterinary authorities, and it has been suggested that those suspected dogs must have been consumed before the onset of clinical signs thereby precluding confirmatory diagnosis.
Work on rabies in apparently healthy dogs has been carried out in different parts of the country. However, information on rabies in Abia State is wanting despite rabies outbreak in neighbouring states. There still exists an eclipse of information on rabies epidemiology in Abia state; there is therefore a need to find out the status of rabies in the state, especially carrier status. This study was undertaken to find out the presence of rabies antigen in the saliva and brain of apparently healthy dogs slaughtered for human consumption in Abia State and to find out the practices of dog meat slaughtering by butchers who fall within the high risk group.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome;
Amazingly, we are repeatedly reminded about bioterrorists and bioweapons, yet with SARS not a word about biowarfare. Certainly proof the media are controlled by powerful forces that refuse to recognise what many citizens are thinking privately, and posting on the Internet.
The earliest April 2003 media reports detailed a mysterious lung disease (acute respiratory syndrome or ARS) that broke out in Guangdong province in mainland China, close to the island of Hong Kong. Shortly thereafter, I received an email describing similar epidemics of ARS with many deaths in the Congo and on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Eastern Africa, in the summer of 2002. In the beginning of the epidemic, the Chinese scientists claimed the lung disease was caused by a bacterium (a chlamydia); Western scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO) suspected a coronavirus. Please note while International Animal Rescue Foundation knows pet meat trade is ongoing in Madagascar evidence of such virus’s associated with pet meat trade has yet to be put forward.
For anyone doing research, an Internet “search-engine” like google.com is invaluable. I typed-in “acute respiratory syndrome African cases 2002”, and quickly discovered WHO reports of ARS in the summer and fall of 2002. In civil war-torn Congo, there were 4000 cases of ARS reported in October 2002, with 500 deaths, making the death rate 12%. In contrast, the Chinese mortality rate from SARS was initially (and erroneously) reported as 3-4%. Even though the African ARS death rate was four times higher, the WHO added the letter “S” and termed the epidemic in China “severe” ARS (SARS). In Madagascar, another country torn by civil strife, the ARS epidemic affected 22,646 people, with 153 deaths. Both epidemics were believed to be caused by influenza A virus, although none of the cases were tested for unusual coronavirus infection. None of these African pre-SARS epidemics were reported by the Western media. Do you see now why we International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa and Europa are becoming rather concerned and frustrated at this lack of public awareness? For instance this month of May there have been a further cluster of Ebola cases (see pic) within Liberia – all cases have not been reported in the media nor has the media reported “potential cases” emerging in Europe via Africans traveling abroad. Media and press we believe have been warned not to create a mass panic even though Ebola has not been eradicated from the African country of Liberia in West Africa.
Within days of the first April reports, WHO investigators claimed Chinese health officials were lying by covering-up the first cases of SARS that occurred in mid-November 2002. It is possible the ARS epidemics in Africa had nothing to do with SARS in China. However, it is well known that Sub-Saharan Africa is a testing place for new vaccines and drugs, and presumably for biowarfare agents as well. By April 17, WHO officially recognised the new coronavirus as the cause of SARS, and named it the SARS virus. Could the new coronavirus/SARS virus be biological warfare? No one in the media was asking that question.
Meanwhile pet meat consumption is increasing and with thanks to countries such as China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand dog meat traditions within Asia are seen as ethically correct practices by African pet meat consumers within the Continent of Africa. What’s good for one is good for the other as they say.
Dog meat, a delicacy in some parts of the Northern and Eastern regions but frowned upon in most parts of the country, has now become a delicacy in some suburbs of the Greater Accra Region, especially Bukom, Korle Gonno, Chorkor and Nungua. Worshippers of the Tigare fetish, which originated from the Northern Region, are known to eat dogs, which are the principal animals used for their rituals.
Auntie Adjeley Doku of Mamprobi whose late father, Nii Adjei is reputed to have brought the Tigare fetish from the north to Accra, explained that instead of the use of sheep in rituals at the shrine, dogs are used.
“Of course, when it is thus used it is cooked and we all eat the meat in either a soup or a stew,” she explained.
“Anyone who eats dog meat (cannot be harmed spiritually by any evil doer). This is because just as the dog protects its owner in real life, so does it do so spiritually, and no witch or evil doer can harm you if you eat the meat of a dog”, she added. Auntie Adjeley also believes that more people are beginning to enjoy the meat because they now know its spiritual value; moreover it is very delicious, just like other meat.
It is also known that some people in the Greater Accra Region, apart from the Tigare worshipers, use the dog instead of sheep for their customary rites. At funerals, outdooring’s, engagements and other social events, especially in Chorkor, dog meat is served as part of the meals eaten. The youth also come together at weekends to prepare and consume soup and stews made with dog meat along with banku, gari or fufu.
At Korle-Bu Sempe, a young woman who wanted to remain anonymous narrated how she joined her brother and friends to eat a delicious meal of gari and stew, only to be told later that the wonderful meat she had was dog meat.
She explained that even though she would not have eaten it if she had known it was dog meat, she realised after the meal that, it was no different from mutton. The brother said he was introduced to the meat by his friends with whom he enjoys cat meat.
According to him, it is really good and recommends it to everybody. It is funny the way people behave over the eating of dog meat. I ate it because I knew other people eat it elsewhere, and once it’s good, I have no qualms about it as long as it’s neatly prepared? , he emphasised.
Another lady, Esi, who stays at Chorkor said the first time she ate the meat was at Atibie Kwahu in the Eastern Region. According to her, she and her friend went to a chop bar and her friend requested for it. After she tasted it, she realised it was good and she enjoyed it very much. Nicknames given to the meat at Chorkor are “me you” and “ogele” and those who enjoy it refer to the meat as such.
This reporter was told the story of some ladies who went to a funeral at Chorkor and were given seats in a friend’s room. While they were being served with drinks they saw a pan full of meat and so they took a few chunks to go with their drinks.
“It was so delicious, so when our friend served us kenkey and fish, we requested for some of the mutton in the pan, her reply of Oh! Do you like the dog meat?” was enough to kill our appetites. At Nungua, behind the Ravico Hotel, is a joint where Brukutu, a popular local drink, is served with dog meat, either as spicy khebab or in soup for those who request for it.
Emmanuel Okwei-Addo of Korle Gonno believes that more people are taking to dog meat these days because they are easy to come by and also people are discarding their revulsion for the meat because they have realised that eating it does not cause any harm.
Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that the mere mention of “dog meat” makes many people spit and turn away. To these people, the dog has always been man’s closest pet and companion and so they cannot conceive the idea of killing it, let alone eating its meat. Others too are put off by the fact that they see the dog in all kinds of “compromising” situations and so they find it difficult to consume its meat.
But this notwithstanding, it appears that dog meat is attracting more “adherents” who, rightly or wrongly, may be telling those who find it repulsive: “You don’t know what you are missing”?
Cultures, traditions or just religious beliefs that span around the consumption of dog and cat meat within Africa must stop sooner rather than later. Researchers from International Animal Rescue Foundation Africa are working in remote regions of Africa studying the trade and understanding ways in which we can halt the trade without disrupting livelihoods. Please do not get ones hopes up to much. Whilst there are uneducated tourists travelling from America and Europe (please view video below) promoting the trade as “ethically correct” without understanding the sheer dangers of what their promoting pose to the entire planets populations then unfortunately we will be fighting a very harsh battle. Will it take mass death for international governmental leaders to take notice? Who knows. For now I leave you with a culture a tradition a food myth that has potential to wipe out thousands if not millions should a bio-disease epidemic occur.
Thank you for reading
Dr Josa Depre – Botanist and Environmentalist
View more here on pet meat consumption at Say No To Dog Meat.Net
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“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.”