Jun 15 2009
I have just come back from the Masai Mara where a lion was poisoned on 25th May. The Masai told me that it is not unusual for lions to be poisoned, indeed they said 5 had been poisoned just 2 months ago!I went to a local agrovet store in Narok town to ask for Furadan but they did not have any. At first the store keeper told me where I could get it but after I pressed him for directions he refused and said in fact there was not anywhere.
I bought some Karate -the pesticide that the Government chemist now says killed the lion and vultures. I opened the packet and found the chemical to be white granules and not pink which the KWS vet described. I’m still not convinced that this was the pesticide used but the agrovet was very suspicious about my motives so I didn’t ask any more questions.
I spent 3 days on community conservancies where the lions are aggressively protected - we saw 7 lions I couldn’t help watching them as they fed on an elephant carcass, and feel shiver - the entire pride could have been wiped out if just one nasty person had the will to lace the carcass. Ten hyenas, five jackals and about 50 vultures would go too. It’s just so easy it’s frightening.
Some good news came today in our East African news paper which did a double page spread on Furadan. This weekly newspaper is carried throughout East Africa so we hope that it has an impact. One part of the story quotes the Pest Control Board official as saying that the we are wasting our time and suggests that the government does not have the apetite to ban Furadan or carbofuran.
“However, according to an official of the Kenya Pest Control and Products Board who is not authorised to talk to the press, it is business as usual at the board as “the board is not convinced that the chemical poses any danger to humans and wildlife.”
The conservationists are cheating themselves. Unless a proper legislative act is put in place, the status quo remains,” he told The EastAfrican”. I hope this person gets to eat his words very soon!
I’m also pleased to see a story in the Huffington Post by Luke Hunter about FMC, Furadan and lions. The message is the same as we’ve been saying all along, and I would love to talk to Luke about what we know and are seeing here in Kenya.
And then I had some horrible news. I just got a call from a friend Kuki Gallman in Laikipia. She was in hospital recovering after being attacked by bandits who broke her arm. The area she lives in sounds quite volatile but she is dedicated to conservation and always alerts me when any animals are poached. She told me today that she believes that three elephants were poisoned with Furadan which in that area is applied to the maize cobs in the nearby farms. Elephants raid the farms at night and eat the laced cobs, and it takes a week for them to die. Kuki told me that the elephants begin to drool and stumble, and they appear to go blind. After a week of suffering they die. She said she also lost a lion to poisoning, she believes it was killed with Furadan - she says everyone uses it.
The BBC asked me today if the FMC buy back had led to a decline in poisoning incidents. While you can’t get Furadan openly in any of the stores, it clearly has not yet had the effect - we still see birds being poisoned every day in Bunyala. The Furadan is coming from somewhere.