In Kenya, parliament is being asked
to ban a pesticide that's been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of animals,
including many lions. Kenyan
MP John Matutho is introducing legislation to prohibit the use of Furadan – a
cheap but lethal chemical originally manufactured by the US based FMC
conservation group Wildlife Direct supports the ban, which would replace a
buy-back program for Furadan. It says local herdsmen are using it to poison
lions and other carnivores threatening their livestock.
Nairobi, WildlifeDirect executive director Dr. Paula Kahumbu says, "This is a
pesticide that has recently been banned in the United States. It's also banned
in Europe because it's been found to be unsafe to be used even if we follow the
label instructions.… It's one of the most dangerous pesticides actually
available at the moment."
readily obtainable over the counter in Africa. "It's very, very cheap. In fact,
it's probably the cheapest pesticide available," she says.
Deadly to wildlife
the early 1990s, it was discovered that water birds were dying large numbers
after Furadanwas used in some irrigation systems.
that's when people realized it was just devastating wildlife. And later on, the
local communities realized it was powerful against almost any animal. In fact,
birds are very sensitive, but so are cats," she says.
Lions fall prey to Furadan
know over 60 lions that have been killed in the last two years and that's
probably the tip of the iceberg. And Kenya today has fewer than 2,100 lions
remaining. We used to have over 30,000," says Kahumbu.
the buyback plan working? The head of WildlifeDirect says, "The Furadan
withdrawal and buyback is working in the sense that FMC is effectively
withdrawing it from the shelves. The problem is the patents that FMC had have
expired and Furadan, or carbofuran, is being produced now by Chinese, Indian
and Pakistani companies."
conservation group fears that means unless a ban is imposed, the pesticide will
easily find its way back to Kenya.
chemical attacks the nervous system and only small amounts can kill an animal.
It can also be fatal to humans if ingested.
takes only a quarter of a teaspoon to kill people, "says Kahumbu. She says
lower concentrations can cause neurological problems, such as paralysis and
has been documented in other countries. It hasn't been documented in Kenya. And
I suspect it's purely because there's absolutely no monitoring system in
place," she says.
Enforcing a ban
be easy to enforce in that if anybody is found using it there would
automatically be very stringent responses. People would be arrested. They
probably would be fined or maybe even go to jail," she says.
Once a ban is imposed, she says, an
education campaign can begin warning of the health dangers of Furadan and the
risks of punishment for using it.