London: Scientists in Cameroon have warned that eating monkeys and apes could cause the next HIV, it was reported here Saturday.
They are already tracking a HIV-like virus called simian foamy virus, and fear more viruses could spread and lead to a global health crisis, Daily Mail reported.
Eighty percent of the meat eaten in Cameroon is killed in the wild and is known as "bushmeat", with gorilla, chimpanzee or monkey favourites.
According to one estimate, up to 3,000 gorillas are slaughtered in southern Cameroon every year.
Elsewhere, the Washington-based Bush Meat Crisis Task Force estimates that up to five million tonnes of wild animals are being "harvested" in the Congo Basin every year - the equivalent of 10 million cattle.
A study earlier this year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), identified evidence of viruses, including simian foamy virus, in illegally imported wildlife products confiscated at several US international airports.
Babila Tafon, head vet at the primate sanctuary Ape Action Africa (AAA), in Mefou, Cameroon, has spotted the virus in animals brought to his sanctuary. The AAA cares for 22 gorillas and more than one hundred chimps which are orphans of the bush meat trade.