Tag Archives: Governmnet Chemist

Poisoned Birds’ Test Results

Hi readers,

We have results for carbofurn testing from the Government Chemist of the Birds collected from Bunyala in May. 5 out of 6 samples tested positive for carbofuran poisoning.

The samples were collected from Bunyala on the 04/05/2008 and transported frozen overnight to Nairobi. In Nairobi, they coninued to be frozen at the nearest Ornithology lab of the National Museums of Kenya.I submitted them to the KEPHIS labratory on the 08/05/2009 but told the HPLC (recommended modern methodology of testing for carbofuran) facility was not functioning but was being fixed.

I received a letter on 18/05/2009 requiring my confirmation that the samples had been tested at the Veterinary Lab and found free of other pathogens that would be harmful to the technicians handling them at the Analytical Chemistry Lab at KEPHIS. I went to KEPHIS to seek clarification because that is where Pest Control Product’s Board, Agricultural Association of Kenya and FMC together with Juanco had instructed us that we should have our samples analysed before we can blame Furadan for the poisoning of wildlife. I questioned the delay by KEPHIS holding on to the samples when they knew I had to have them checked at veterinary laboratory. They apologized but reminded me everyone was afraid of the Avian Flu and Swine Flu! Avian flu there was reason for concern but I have been involved in the Avian Flu Survellance in Kenya since 2006 and so far we have no incidence reported. I even told them that it would have been witnessed in the chicken in the area, even humans and since nothing of the sort had been seen and all migrants had as good as all flown back north there was no reason for fear. As for Swine Flu????!!!!…. Anyway I knew I could not bypass the lab ethics and just had to do as they commanded. I was upset that even the pesticide regulators, manufacturers and distributors did not mention that Vet lab had to be visited as well. Each of these labs would charge differently for the samples and these justified stakeholders were not going to pay a penny towards this common problem.

I was able to get the samples from KEPHIS on the 25/05/2009 and headed straight for Veterinary Laboratory. I told the officer in charge that I had collected the bird gut samples to be tested for carbofuran poisoning but had been told that I needed verification that the birds’ guts did not pose any health threat to humans. He gave the samples to his junior who came back to ask me what exactly I wanted and that as a matter of fact their facilities were not working. I thought he was the vet and that he knew what relevant procedures were to be applied to test for the security of the tissues! He gave me the other option of travelling back to Bunyala, get the District Veterinary Officer from Busia Town (2 t0 3 hour drive away), pay him per diem and have hm witness the poisoning and rule out any other cause of death before I could deliver the samples to KEPHIS or Vet Lab. He even quickly gave me Busia’s District Veterinary Officer’s contacts. Further, I was given an irrelevant note stating that the Vet Lab was at the moment not of capacity to do any toxicological analysis and requested KEPHIS to go ahead. In the first place they were meant to do Pathological analysis and not toxicological analysis. I was told to try out the various options given to me and I would have a break through. I was lost then ever and a whole day gone without concrete assistance.

I froze the samples overnight at theOrnithology lab at the National Museums of Kenya and delivered them to government first thing the next day, 26/05/2008 and told to check the results after 2 weeks.

Well, the results are now out. I have my field notes of the birds from which we eviscerated the guts.




I had actually formulated my hypothesis of the results to expect. Honestly I expected positive carbofuran results for all the 6 samples (5 guts and 1 bait) but I hypothesized that wounded birds’s gut extracts might not test positive for carbofuran. This is because may be the birds were ambushed by the poachers, knocking them with their clubs before they had eaten substancial amount of bait. well, sample 3 tested positive. I suppose this is because full adult birds have greater resistance for the poison and therefore the bird had consumed quite a bit of the bait but still seemed strong and therefore was clobberedso it does not escape.

Sample 8’s result is the puzzle, being the only sample that tested negative carbofuran testing. I recall its crop was not as full compared to the other birds so may be the contents were not enough to show positivity.

Nonetheless, here’s the certificate for carbofuran poisoning results- analysis.pdf