On Monday October 26th a three-year-old boy mistakenly ate the pesticide Furadan (also known as carbofuran) in western Kenya. His father, a teacher at a primary school, said that he had no knowledge of how dangerous the pesticide was, which he had purchased to kill pests in his vegetable garden.
This tragedy comes after the conservation organization WildlifeDirect has campaigned for two years for Furadan to be banned in Kenya. The pesticide, which is a potent neurotoxin, has been used to kill dozens of Kenya’s lions and millions of birds both of which are considered pests to farmers and pastoralists. Now WildlifDirect is going directly to Prime Minister Ranila Odinga for support in the ban. Odinga recently adopted a lion under the Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) Wildlife Endowment Fund.
“The Prime Minister did well to adopt that young lion cub, but now is the time for him to lead in a much more significant action to save lions – declare them an endangered species in Kenya and enforce a total ban on carbofurans” says Dr Richard Leakey, chairman of WildlifeDirect and legendary conservationist in Africa.
According to scientists and KWS the pesticide has killed at least 76 lions in the last five years, as well as over 300 vultures and other birds by the ‘truckloads’. Recently KWS has admitted that due to drastic declines in lions, Kenya may lose all of its ‘kings of the jungle’ in twenty years.
Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States has determined that carbofuran (Furadan is the brand name) is too dangerous for American consumers. Beginning at the end of the year any use of carbofuran in the USA will become a criminal offense.
“If the pesticide is not safe for use in the US or Europe, where pesticide users are more informed, why would we think that the pesticide is safe for use in Africa?” asks Leakey. “It is immoral to sell a pesticide as dangerous as carbofuran in Africa.”
Most farmers in Kenya are uneducated and Furadan packages do not even sport the universal skull-and-crossbones symbol denoting that the pesticide is lethal. In addition, Furadan is often repackaged in Kenya in unmarked packets that contain no user instructions.
Carbofuran is manufactured in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Farm Machinery and Chemicals (FMC).
Slideshow about lions and Furadan in Kenya produced by Wildlife Direct.
Footage of bird in Kenya being poisoned with Furadan and then clubbed to death for human consumption.
(10/20/2009) Not many years ago if you were planning a trip to Africa to see wildlife, Kenya would be near the top of the list, if not number one. Then violent riots in late 2007 and early 2008 leaving a thousand dead tarnished the country’s image abroad. When calm and stability returned, Kenya was again open for tourism, and it’s true that most travelers were quick to forget: articles earlier this year announced that even with the global economic crisis Kenya was expecting tourism growth. However, a new disaster may not be so quickly overcome.
(08/20/2009) The Kenyan Wildlife Service recently announced that massive declines in lion population may lead to their disappearence from the region within less than 2 decades. Kenya currently has an estimated 2000 lions, but is losing the large cats at a rate of around 100 each year.
(08/17/2009) Founded in 2004 by legendary conservationist Richard Leakey, WildlifeDirect is an innovative member of the conservation community. WildlifeDirect is really a meta-organization: it gathers together hundreds of conservation initiatives who blog regularly about the trials and joys of practicing on-the-ground conservation. From stories of gorillas reintroduced in the wild to tracking elephants in the Okavango Delta to saving sea turtles in Sumatra, WildlifeDirect provides the unique experience of actually hearing directly from scientists and conservationists worldwide.
(06/08/2009) After highly-publicized poisonings of lions in Kenya’s national parks, the Kenyan Parliament has begun addressing longstanding concerns regarding the pesticide Furadan. Since 1995 Furadan has been used to illegally kill 76 lions, 15 hyenas, 24 hippos, over 250 vultures, and thousands of other birds in Kenya. These numbers are likely low due to under-reporting, according to Kenya-based conservation organization, Wildlife Direct.