Determination of Illegal Bush-Meat Availability in Randomly Selected Butcheries in Nairobi and its Environs Using Cytochrome B Mitochondrial DNA Marker
Ngadi, Owino Mathews
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Kenya’s invaluable wildlife is under threat from wildlife crime, which has been on the increase in the recent past. With up to 70% of wildlife living outside protected areas either seasonally or permanently, protecting them from poaching has continued to be a great challenge. In the year 2012, KWS reported recovery of 7515kg of bush-meat in Kenya. Currently, prosecuting wildlife offenders, especially in bush-meat cases, has become nearly impossible due to the fact that poachers use highly sophisticated methods. They slaughter cleanly and de-bone the poached animal, taking only the red meat. The processed bush-meat product becomes difficult to distinguish from livestock meat based on near similar morphological features. Immunological methods such as ELISA and ouchterlony have been used in bush-meat identification but they have some limitations. Recent advances in DNA-typing enable bush-meat to be identified beyond reasonable doubt and yield results that are admissible in court for purposes of prosecution. This study aimed at evaluating the putative occurrence and prevalence of bush-meat in butcheries within Nairobi and its environs. A simple randomized survey was carried out in which 138 meat samples of approximately 250 g were purchased from various butcheries. The DNA was extracted from these samples using the high pure PCR template preparation Kit (Roche, Germany) following the manufacturer’s protocol and a partial region of the mitochondrial DNA was amplified using Mcb398 and Mcb869 markers. The resulting PCR products were sequenced on the big Dye terminator sequencing platform. The contigs were assembled and BLAST searches conducted against the Genbank database. The results revealed that no bush-meat was present in the sampled markets and that 86.96% of the purchased meat originated from cattle (Bos taurus), 10.87% from goat (Capra hircus) and 2.17% from Sheep (Ovis aries). Curiously, in 11.6% of the purchased samples, the meat was identified wrongly by the traders. Phylogenetic analysis using maximum likelihood method based on 32 haplotypes posted three clades corresponding to Bos taurus, Capra hircus and Ovis aries; an affirmation of blast results. This study therefore did not detect any overt bush-meat trade in the areas sampled within Nairobi and its environs.