Kenyans Race to Get Furadan Banned

Lion cub poisoned in the mara

Lion cub poisoned in the Masai Mara

Kenyan conservationists are making gains in their push to have Furadan, a carbofuran-based pesticide that has so far caused the death of 76 lions, banned in the country.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Naivasha Constituency, Honourable John Mututho, has now joined the call for a total ban on this lethal poison by taking the appeal to parliament. On Tuesday, 2 June 2009, the Baraza blog reports scanned some pieces from the news, and reports that  Hon. Mututho asked the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife for the ban amid overwhelming support from other parliamentarians.

In today’s national newspapers in Kenya, there were two stories about lion poisoning in the Masai Mara. One in The Standard reports the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Services Dr Noah Wekesa saying that lions were dying in the Masai Mara and Furadan was responsible. He however referred Hon. John Mututho’s call for its ban to the Agriculture Minister and the Pesticide Control Products Board.

In the other news item appearing in the Daily Nation, the Kenya Wildlife Service, which is the custodian of Kenya’s wildlife, has accused farmers of poisoning one lion, some hyenas and 35 vultures in the Mara. The KWS said that there were traces of a pinkish substance on the carcase that was used to bait the these carnivores and scavengers.

The Minister on his part, while acknowledging that Furadan was killing many lions in a country that now has only 2100 lions down from 30,000 a few decades back, however, referred the question of the ban to the Minister for Agriculture and the Pest Control Products Board – the government organization that regulates pesticides in Kenya.

Kenyan conservationists have been fighting for the removal of Furadan from the market since the mid-1990s when massive poisoning of wild ducks was being witnessed in the rice-growing Mwea Irrigation Scheme in the Eastern Province. It was however the recent coverage of lion poisoning problem by American broadcaster CBS that this issue has become of great concern for Kenyan leaders. Hon Mututho however had asked for a ban back in 2008 following the death of lions in Masai Mara.

Although FMC Corporation, the Philadelphia-based manufacturer of Furadan announced an immediate withdrawal of the lethal chemical from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania just hours after the CBS programme on 60 Minutes, lions and other wildlife are still being poisoned with Furadan. Martin Odino, a Kenyan researcher attached to the National Museums of Kenya, has been reporting in his Stop Wildlife Poisoning blog about alarming poisoning of birds which seem to be sold for food.

About a month after FMC's withdrawal of the chemical from the market, Baraza blog reports that an eight-month-old lion cub died after consuming a carcase of a cow that had been laced with a pesticide suspected to be Furadan. Several hyenas and an estimated 40 vultures were also poisoned by the same carcase. With the lion cub was four other lions whose fate has not been established yet.

These poisoning cases have made conservationists relentless in their pursuit for the ban. On 9 June 2009, conservationists met at WildlifeDirect offices in Nairobi and in that meeting, they brought out the dire situation facing birds. It emerged that even as lion poisoning was in the limelight, the poisoning of birds was equally catastrophic. A report by KWS indicated that birds were being poisoned in ‘pick-up truck loads’. WildlifeDirect, which convened this meeting, promptly issued a statement throught the Baraza blog.

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