Tag Archives: lions

CBS 60 minutes follow up

Dear friends,

Last night CBS 60 minutes re-ran the story on the link between the collapse of lion populations in Africa, and the misuse of the pestsicide Furadan, a carbofuran produced in the USA. There is a video here and the online piece attracted 119 comments.

Hopefully this piece will  energise the discussions in Kenya about the call for a ban on carbofuran.


Furadan’s legality in Kenya

The big question as concerns Furadan poisoning in Kenya is if the pesticide’s availability is legal or illegal. This leaves the situation as concerns practical legal measures to check poisoning of wildlife especially using Furadan uncertain. At the moment, my understanding and many involved conservationists is that the pesticide has been withdrawn from Kenya since early in the second quarter of this year by the known, original manufacture, the FMC . Yet again the business men cum agrovet-keepers ALL seem to have the understanding that Furadan is BANNED. They make reference on the banned status of Furadan to the persons who have been going round retrieving what was left of their Furadan 5G stocks. We know for sure that Juanco, once the local distributors of Furadan have been the ones buying back Furadan and therefore must be the ones giving the explanation that they are retrieving the pesticide because it has been misused to poison wildlife in particular lions. PCPB and AAK have not issued any statement as concerns Furadan, while the Kenyan government discussed the banning of the pesticide in parliament and left the matter on the decision to ban Furadan and other carbofuran’s pending and have since been silent about the issue.

I have continued to observe bird poisoning in Bunyala and though the chemical has not been available on agrovet shelves since December, 2008, birds continue being poisoned in Bunyala Rice irrigation Scheme using the poison. While the means of aquiring the poison have changed and is now a top secret affair, the evidence of the poison’s availability is strongly clear with birds continuing to be poisoned and the product once in the hands of bird poachers, not all of them are astutely careful, leaving about the mess during manouvres to screen the identity of the pesticide uncleared; I mean the containers and labels of Furadan poisoning are never well disposed and litter the fields where they bait birds. Worse is the fact that even though FMC-manufactured stocks of Furadan are being called back, which have a designated label pattern of the text overwritten on diagonal inclined “juanco”repeated sequence throughout the label, some of these labels do not have the identity print suggestive of counterfeit or other manufacture product in wide circulation.


Pieces of evidence not well disposed by bird baiting poachers; no authentication of JUANCO distribution by the repetitive ‘juanco ‘on label and therefore possibly a black market product.

A classic example of the unchanged situation of Furadan in Kenya which has shunned conservationists’ hopes that the supply of the poison will trickle to none in the market hence at least control poisoning of wildlife is the availability of the pesticide in Eldoret, openly displayed in a number of agrovets, just this month. It had been broadly observed that the pesticide was slowly becoming hard to come by (since the buy back was declared) in agrovet stores and in the stores where it was available it was hidden and apparently sold to ‘specilal’ customers after authentication that the customer is not a law enforcer. That Furadan is openly available in Eldoret Town and the shopkeepers admiting they know it is ‘banned’ and yet continue displaying and selling it is a disturbing issue.

These are my inferences: If agrovets are still selling the pesticide, it is not against the law if the pesticide is from JUANCO. This is because PCPB acknowledges supplies of Furadan from FMC and JUANCO was the acknowledged local distributor until when FMC voluntarily decided to withdraw and buy back Furadan in which case we hope they have stopped supplying and distributing it respectively. With PCPB’s and the government’s stands unchanged, then the agrovets still with the pesticide are not on the wrong, with supply and distribution regulations unchanged by PCPB. In addition, Kenya’s pesticides’ law infers that a pesticide cannot be banned due to misuse. Sadly, this makes me wonder if the agrovets’ persons tales that ‘Furadan is banned’ was not a story ‘told to be told’ to investigators. In addition, it means Furadan’s ban hitherto is unwarranted by the poisoning of carnivores, birds and possibly people!However, sell of counterfeit pesticide products is illegal and offenders are subject to discipline by law. But the problem is that the non-FMC Furadan may be from licenced suppliers by the regulatory agencies who keep so many matters as classified.

Furadan may just be still legal, much as the withdrawal and buy back by FMC of the poison seemed to push its status to a pseudo-illegal product, I should say. Well, FMC’s and non-FMC Furadans still linger our land and there is no knowing of their fate by our legislators and regulators which still leaves our wildlife perilously vulnerable to deadly , devastating poisoning by this deadly poisonous substance.

poisoned storks 1.JPG

A poacher holding poisoned birds by Furadan baiting for human consumption: A scene reflecting a situation in dire need of solving.

Horrible things happening in Laikipia

Dear friends

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.

Thank you for your petition

An angel has set up a petition on Care2 to help get carbofuran banned in Kenya. It includes a letter to the Minister for Tourism in Kenya.  The petition currently has over 14,000 signatures!  


Thank you who ever you are who is helping us silently from out there. We continue to work hard and really appreciate all your support.


From all of us at WildlifeDirect

Furadan – the greatest threat to Kenyas lions

At a recent meeting, Ms. Alayne Cotteril explained that the misuse of  carbofuran (sold as Furadan in Kenya) in Kenya could push  Kenya’s few remaining lions over the threshold and into extinction. Living with Lions is an organization managed by Dr Laurence Frank that believes the most urgent threat to lions today is the widespread use of poison to kill them in retaliation for depredation on livestock. This is their message.

Masai cow killed by lion

When lions or hyenas kill a cow, they eat part of it and come back the next night to finish the carcass. Livestock owners have learned that a universally available agricultural pesticide carbofuran (marketed as Furadan) is lethal to predators – they need only sprinkle a few cents worth of carbofuran on the carcass and any mammal or bird which feeds on it will die.

This cow (above), found by one of LWL’s Lion Guardians was killed by lions and partially eaten. They returned to the carcass the next night, providing an easy opportunity for a potential lion poisoner.

Lion poisoned with carbofuran

LWL has evidence of over 60 lions poisoned in just our Laikipia and Kilimanjaro study areas, sometimes whole prides at once. These are a small fraction of the predators actually killed by poison, because in the vast expanse of African rangelands, relatively few come to the attention of researchers or the authorities.

We frequently learn of a poisoning when we find one of our collared lions dead. The animals are often found next to a poisoned livestock carcass.

Richard Bonham’s evidence of large scale lion and hyena poisoning in 2001-2 motivated the establishment of his Predator Compensation Fund and LWL’s Kilimanjaro Lion Conservation Project. More recently the Amboseli Predator Project has been started by LWL to investigate the problem in another area of Maasailand.

vulture poisoned with carbofuran

Carbofuran, which is banned in the US and Europe because of its lethal effects on wildlife, is sold throughout agricultural areas of Kenya. It is legitimately used as an insecticide and nematicide, but one need only ask any agricultural supply shop for something to kill stray dogs, hyena or lions, and for about $1.50 they will sell a small plastic jar of carbofuran granules, enough to kill a whole pride of lions or clan of hyenas.

Although poisoned predators are rarely found by conservationists, a more visible effect of predator poisoning is the disappearance of vultures and some species of eagles from the skies of Kenya. These also feed on poison-laced livestock carcasses or the bodies of dead lions and hyenas and are also killed, sometimes dozens at a time.

Some vulture species have become nearly extinct in Kenya and others are severely reduced. Elsewhere, carbofuran is also reported to be used for poisoning fish for human consumption, and crocodiles for their skins.

What can be done?

In the short term, Kenya must ban the importation and sale of carbofuran and replace its legitimate agricultural use with other pesticides which cannot be abused to kill wildlife.

However, in the long term, we must find ways to make predators more valuable to the rural people who share the land with wildlife. So long as wild animals are regarded by people as an expensive nuisance rather than a valuable resource, wildlife in Africa will continue to decline, eaten as cheap bush meat, poisoned and speared as pests.

Lion cub

In a world increasingly dominated by humans, crops and livestock, all Living with Lions programs are focused on this one ultimate challenge to conservation.

Mara lion poisoning incident update

KWS highly suspect that Furadan (carbofuran) was used to kill the lion, hyenas and 36 vultures in the Masai Mara on the 25th June. Although sample analysis had not yet been concluded, all signs point to Furadan. We applaud KWS and the Narok warden of the Mara for taking such swift action on this incident and for arresting the perpetrators of this destruction. Our own inquiries suggest that up to 8 other lions of this pride my have been affected by this poisoning incident, though this has not been confirmed.

AP put out this press release today

MASAI MARA, Kenya – Kenya’s 2,000 lions are at grave risk from repeated drought and a poisonous pesticide that wildlife officials on Thursday blamed for at least 76 deaths since 2001.

The problems have contributed to the country’s lion population falling by 700 in the last six years, said Charles Musyoki, a senior scientist with the Kenya Wildlife Service. The figures were based on counts carried out every two years.

Officials in the protected 1,510-sq. kilometers (585-sq. miles) of the Masai Mara National Reserve showed an Associated Press reporter on Wednesday the remains of an 8-month-old lion and 36 dead vultures that fed on a tainted cow carcass.

Government scientists are still analyzing samples to determine the poison that killed the animals.

Government scientists say that at least 76 lions have been killed since 2001 after eating prey contaminated by a pesticide marketed as Furadan by Philadelphia-based FMC Corp.

FMC Corp. did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment Thursday.

The pesticide is used in Kenya to control insects on crops such as corn, rice and sorghum.

Pesticide imports stopped
Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa told Parliament on Tuesday that FMC has stopped the importation of Furadan into Kenya.

Chief Warden James Sindiyo

Warden James Sindiyo at the remains of an 8-month-old lion and 36 vultures in Masai Mara National Reserve.

FMC has said it stopped sales of Furadan to Kenya following a report in May 2008 that the pesticide may have been involved in poisoning lions and has instituted a buyback program in Kenya to remove any remaining product from the market.

Musyoki said that herdsmen were also killing lions to protect their livestock that share the large semi-arid reserves with the lions.

The official said the herdsmen had to be taught the importance of the animals to the economy. Tourists flock to the country to see Kenya’s big five — the lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino.

“I don’t foresee a time when we can eliminate the lion-human conflict but we can minimize it,” said Musyoki. “The only bank account a pastoralist has is his animal. If a lion kills two cows out of four … that is like the disappearance of 50 percent of his account.”

Another lion poisoned in the Mara

We have just heard from a reliable source that at least 35 vultures, one lion and a few hyeanas were poisoned bye the Olololaimutiak gate in the Masai Mara last week.

Masai mara map

We are in the process of finding out if this is Furadan. It certainly sounds like Furadan from reports so far. Evidence will be collected and hopefully the government will conduct a full investigation to find out what happened, and to charge the offenders.

This week alone we have submitted four reports of wildlife poisoning that have occurred in the last  6 weeks or so, to the Pest Products Control Board in Nairobi. They are responsible for regulating the use of pesticides in Kenya and. Although we have not yet heard back from them, we are confident that they will conduct investigations and get back to us.

All suspected wildlife poisoning incidents that involve Furadan are also being forwarded to FMC who are working closely with the government regulators in Kenya.

One very positive outcome of this blog has been the general raising of awareness that there is somewhere to report the poisoning of wildlife in Kenya. To be more effective we need to reach other corners of Kenya and this takes time and money. Please share this information with your friends and networks and help us raise adequate funding to extend our work and reach more people and places where wildlife is silently dying.

One of our goals is to produce educational materials to share with the communties that are poisoning wildlife out of ignorance. Any help  that you can provide towards this work would be greatly appreciated.

Post Script

After posting this article I sent word out on twitter to find out if it was true and I got this response from Kimojino who tweets as @maratriangle “@paulakahumbu It’s true, over on other side of Mara. A revenge killing after the cows were killed by lions, while grazing IN the reserve.”

We’re trying to find out if it was Furadan

Bird-killing pesticide facing a ban in Canada

U.S. regulator announces crackdown on carbofuran, and Canadian health
authorities are considering whether to follow suit

Mark Hume Vancouver – Globe and Mail Update, Wednesday, May. 20, 2009
11:05PM EDT

A toxic agricultural pesticide blamed for killing up to 100 million birds a
year in North America and for poisoning lions in Africa, is facing a
proposed ban in Canada this summer.

Following a ruling last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
forbid the sale of any domestic or imported food crops that have traces of
the chemical carbofuran, Health Canada is proposing to “phase out all uses”
of the pesticide.

But the move comes decades after Canadian government officials first
learned carbofuran was wiping out everything from flocks of songbirds in
the Prairies to eagles in British Columbia.

One of the first warnings about the pesticide came in 1984 when a
Saskatchewan farmer went to inspect a canola field he’d treated with

“He returned to find the bodies of several thousand Lapland Longspurs
dotting the field,” according to a report on the incident by the Canadian
Wildlife Service.

The Lapland Longspur is a sparrow-like songbird that breeds in the Arctic
and winters in open fields across southern Canada and the United States.

In 1993, Agriculture Canada published a special “discussion document” on
the chemical that states “carbofuran has one of the highest recorded
toxicities to birds of any insecticide registered for use in Canada.”

A single grain of carbofuran – the size of piece of sand – or a single
tainted earthworm can be lethal, the document says. “On the basis of kill
rates reported in company studies conducted in cornfields, it can be
concluded that the use of granular carbofuran will result in the death of a
large proportion of the songbirds breeding in and around treated fields.”

Despite such findings, the government allowed use of the pesticide to

Pierre Mineau, a research scientist with CWS and one of the world’s leading
experts on carbofuran’s environmental impact, declined an interview request
yesterday, saying he couldn’t speak without clearance.

When The Globe and Mail refused to provide questions in advance,
Environment Canada officials said Dr. Mineau was not available.

Agriculture Canada directed all questions to Health Canada, which declined
to provide anyone to be interviewed.

“Health Canada is in the process of preparing a publication on the
re-evaluation of carbofuran to be released this summer, which will be
proposing to phase out all uses,” Philippe Laroche, a ministry media
spokesman, stated in an e-mail.

“The re-evaluation of carbofuran indicates that this insecticide poses
unacceptable risks to human health and the environment,” he wrote.

Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy for the American Bird
Conservancy, was delighted to hear Health Canada proposes following the
lead of the EPA.

“That’s great news. That’s wonderful,” he said yesterday.

He said estimates on the number of birds killed annually by carbofuran
range from 17 million to 100 million.

Asked why it has taken so long to ban the chemical when its devastating
impact on birds had been known for decades, Dr. Fry commented: “I think
there’s been a very aggressive campaign by the [manufacturing] company to
keep the pesticide on the market.”

Jim Fitzwater, a spokesman for FMC Corp., a Philadelphia company that
manufactures carbofuran under the trade name, Furadan®, said he wasn’t
aware of the Health Canada proposal.

“Let’s see what their analysis is first [before responding],” he said.

Mr. Fitzwater said FMC is planning to file an official objection to the EPA
ruling, and hopes to have that decision reviewed.

He declined to say how much Furadan® is sold in Canada, but a 1991 report
by Health Canada states that between 100,000 and 500,000 kilograms was
being used annually on crops.

Furadan® made international news in March when the CBS news program 60
Minutes reported that 75 lions had been killed in Kenya, apparently by
poachers who poisoned baits with the chemical.

FMC Corp. responded to the reports by withdrawing the chemical from the
market in Kenya.

Furadan to be withdrawn from Africa

Dear Friends, we have just received word that the manufacturers of Furadan are about to withdraw all stocks from the continent .

FMC Response to 60 Minutes Story on Kenyan Lion Poisonings

March 29, 2009

On Sunday, March 29, CBS News 60 Minutes aired a story on the human-wildlife conflict in Kenya that reports Furadan®, an FMC insecticide, has become the preferred product that many cattle herders use to poison lions that kill their livestock. FMC strongly condemns the use of its products to kill wildlife and is very concerned about these allegations. The company has taken several actions to address the situation including:

  • Stopping all sales of Furadan to Kenya immediately after learning of an incident in May 2008
  • Immediately initiating a Furadan buy-back program in Kenya to remove any remaining product from the market
  • Direct outreach to leading conservationists to get any data concerning lion poisonings

In the segment, “60 Minutes” implies that more than 75 lion poisonings have been caused by Furadan. We are greatly troubled by the potential magnitude of this situation as it has never been brought to our attention despite our repeated requests to the Kenyan Wildlife Service to share any and all information about lion poisonings.

When a report surfaced last year that Furadan may have been involved in poisoning lions in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, FMC immediately suspended the introduction of any additional Furadan into the distribution channel. We have now instituted a buy-back of Furadan to speed its removal from the market. We will not reintroduce Furadan into Kenya until appropriate safeguards are in place.

FMC is a global company dedicated to delivering innovative products that improve the lives of people around the world. We take tremendous pride, not only in our products, but in our stewardship programs. We will continue to work with the Kenyan government, agricultural industry and conservation groups to try to prevent the misuse of our product or any other pesticide used to kill wildlife.

For further information about FMC products and stewardship initiatives, please visit www.furadanfacts.com.

Media contact: Jim Fitzwater – 215.299.6633 or [email protected]

Download: FMC Statement on 60 Minutes Story on Lion Poisonings – Press Statement (PDF, 137KB)

This is a big day for us – read the full story on the Baraza blog

Detoxication of Furadan

Hi. Every evening after a scorching daytime heat we would patiently doze before our lap top screens waiting for our modems to pick up some modest internet connection to enable us get online. On our last night of our reconnaisance in Bunyala, somehow we could not doze or get down to some work online.

One woman narrated how she had bought a poisoned bird for her visiting ailing nephew for a special meal for the two of them that day. Earlier on that afternoon, we had been shown how a furadan-poisoned bird meat had to be prepared to rid it of the poison. Clearly, the hunters and consumers seemed well aware of furadan’s toxicity and said the special preparation of the meat rendered it safe.

The hunter and his wife also consumers of the poison-killed bird meat insisted that the meat had to be smoked and left to dry on heat till sizzling stoped and no more fluids dripped from the meat. Normal cooking then followed and with this you were guaranteed of no intoxication from the deadly ingredient in furadan.


Smoked wild bird meat. Once cooked, locals declare it fit for human consumption

I am not convinced that this method frees the meat entirelely of the furadan toxins especially because the hunter’s wife has for a while been sick and has a walking problem. Furadan?What we know is that lions in the mara intoxicated by furadan suffered limb paralysis. At Mwea rice scheme, another poisoning hot spot, wild ducks cooked without being smoked  and consumed are blamed to cause stiffness especially in the knee joints  of humans.