Pangolins, Salamanders, Gorillas, (Being Eaten) Oh My!
Menus usually consist of the favorite “S” foods: steak, spaghetti, and sushi, but what would you do if you saw gorilla? Some cultures actually serve gorilla, elephant, salamander, pangolin, and much more! Worst of all, these animals are on the endangered species list. Due to a loss of habitat and poaching, these animals are on the verge of becoming extinct. Despite being illegal and/or having strong conservative actions in place, it has not stopped poachers from hunting these endangered species.
Gorillas and Chimpanzees
Gorillas and Chimpanzees are both seen as exotic and magnificent animals. Gorillas, although huge and protective, are normally calm and gentle animals. One male gorilla directs a group of female gorillas and their young. Often seen in pictures as sitting and looking at the camera or eating, gorillas do not come off as intensely frightening animals. Well, not until you see one ticked off. Then I strongly suggest running. There may not be a Tarzan nearby to protect you!
Chimpanzees on the other hand, are often violent, loud, and wild animals. Chimps are not known to be kind and loving in the wild, as they often hunt and kill bush babies with spears they make themselves out of sticks! Chimps are known to be very closely related to humans, and their behaviors are quite similar. Despite, the differences between these two animals, they also have major similarities. The first one is that they are both an African favorite. Considered bushmeat, these apes are often hunted for food in Africa. Due to hunting and a habitat loss, the ape population is declining rapidly. Unfortunately, this has been happening for years.
In fact, scientists have discovered that gorillas and chimpanzees actually passed Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), to humans. In case you are not aware, SIV is the monkey version of HIV. Humans who cut up apes for meat became infected with SIV when infected ape blood entered their body and transformed into HIV. It has been passed along ever since. Okay, so why are we eating apes again?
African Forest Elephant
These massive animals have always had a poaching problem. For years, their ivory tusks have been adored and desired. Poachers come from all over to kill elephants, just for two little tusks. However, now these forest elephants, who are almost extinct, are being hunted for their meat!
Although weighing over 5,000 pounds, they only contain about 1,000 pounds of meat. This meat and ivory is so desired, that despite years of protection, poachers are actively invading parks and protection sites, killing elephants on federally protected land! In 2013, 26 elephants were killed by poachers on Central African Republic’s Dzanga Bai World Heritage Site. In 2014, during a three month span, 68 elephants were killed at Garamba National Park. The list unfortunately goes on and on.
The worst part is, poachers are even killing baby elephants that don’t have their tusks yet. In 2013, it was estimated that forest elephants would be extinct in less than ten years. Here is one species, that despite rangers, video cameras, trained park guards, and volunteers, their meat is more desired than the protection Africa can give them. Poor forest elephants…
Boy, oh boy, people love their pangolins! Pangolins are found in Asia and Africa, where both varieties are on the IUCN endangered species list. Some are even critically endangered. Pangolins weigh between 3.5 to 73 pounds! They aren’t the most attractive animals. Covered in overlapping scales, they are nicknamed the scaly anteater.
Pangolins are a very favorite type of bushmeat. Considered a delicacy, and very illegal to kill, pangolin meat is often smuggled into different countries. Eleven tons of pangolin meat was discovered on a Chinese vessel near the Philippines, back in 2013. Apparently, the idea that pangolins will never be around, is just a whisper in the wind compared to buying and consuming them now.
Bluefin Tuna, recently put on the vulnerable for extinction list, has been a huge seller on restaurant menus. Due to their endangered situation, many restaurants have taken the Bluefin Tuna off their lists. However, plenty of places in the U.S. still serve this fish due to the pretty dollar it fetches. Restaurants, Nobu, Moriomoto, Masa, and Terra located in L.A., Napa Valley, and New York still sell this delicacy.
Just to put the price tag of the Bluefin Tuna into perspective, Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo sold a Bluefin Tuna for $1.76 million in 2013! Because, apparently only fish over a million dollars are worth eating. So, next time you go to the supermarket and buy frozen tuna in a bag, just know, that’s the McDonald’s version. Bruce Mattel, associate dean of food production at the Culinary Institute of America, even stated that the “Bluefin tuna belly is one of the most delicious things in the world”. Umm… I thought that was chocolate?
Chinese Giant Salamander
Mmm…. slimy salamander. Oh wait, that’s not what you find delicious? Silly me! The Chinese Giant Salamander is the largest amphibian in the world! Maybe not for long, though. Nearing extinction, these giant salamanders apparently make a delicious meal.
Considered a delicacy in Asia, these quiet salamanders are illegally hunted for their meat. Unfortunately, dams in China have limited their habitat, while pollution and pesticides in the water are affecting their health. So maybe eating endangered, polluted salamanders isn’t the greatest idea in the world?
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