Tag Archives: poisoning

Status of deliberate bird poisoning for human consumption in Kenya

This video of struggling intoxicated African Openbills, recorded about a month ago sums up the current situation of bird poisoning in Bunyala, Kenya.

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During 2009, the first study of this kind in Kenya documented tallies of deliberately poisoned birds for human consumption in Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme. Over 30 species of birds were affected with over 3000 dying from poisoning out of the 8000 observed live individuals during 10 day surveys for 10 months . The dire effects of the practice to the human population have not yet been assessed but there is no doubt that humans continue to suffer unknowingly. These activities were highlighted on this blog and were for long regarded inaccurate and unreal, atimes outrageously branded as unlawful creations of the main authors of this blog; that we would direct the poison-poaching activities on the ground to create the scandalous effect then broadcast it to the public. Misunderstandings therefore ensued characterized by accusations and denials especially between WildlifeDirect and relevant government and other responsible departments with little action to arrest the situation. Nonetheless, we eventually settled on negotiations with a successful multi-institutional fact-finding trip to Bunyala during last year. Unanimous practical recommendations were passed by all involved but one year later, there has been no action to implement even the most vouched for effective recommendation- education campaign to the public.

Surveys during December 2011 – January 2012 observed an auspicious situation (although isolated cases of bird poisoning were still reported) with poaching teams reported disintegrated and absorbed in other trades particularly fishing and rice farming. This was attributed to the fact-finding trip that was regarded by locals as forewarning of the soon to follow punishment by government authorities. Local administrative officers on the site also stayed on high alert. In the few months that followed, I was informed on the improving situation on the ground mostly by telephone correspondence.

My visits at the site starting April 2012 however observed an escalating situation. On my first day of the survey, an intoxicated Openbill was pursued and captured on my camping grounds. The poacher immediately strangled the bird unaware that he was being watched. My 2 scouts also reported that there had been a massive dove and pigeon harvest through poisoning during March into April 2012. I noted during the few survey days that I was on site of May, June and July 2012, poisoning of Fulvous Whistling Ducks and the African Openbills. During this period there was flooding of the rice fields in preparation for the planting of the crop thereby attracting large flocks of water birds.

Above is my illustration that we are still faced by the dreadful problem of deliberate bird poisoning characterized by dismal attention from relevant authorities, meagre man power in the field and lack of the much needed funds. Yet someone has to act to rescue all biodiversity at stake here; to end the massacre on the birds at these important concentration centres for the species and potential human intoxications. We are just starting the Palaearctic and Oriental bird migration season into Kenya and other southerly territories. Poison-poaching activities will therefore conveniently peak at Bunyala and other major rice irrigation scheme with this problem to maximize kills on the abundant avian resource. I will therefore kindly call on your support in the next few days for localized education campaigns, advocacy initiatives and poacher recruits as scouts and birding guides.

Poachers poison elephants, lions, buffaloes & vultures

Dear readers,

In a first incident of its kind in Zimbabwe, poachers have poisoned waterholes subsequently killing 9 elephants, 5 lion, 2 buffaloes and an unspecified number of vultures. This adds to the spate of grisly killings of wildlife incidences by poachers of which most go unnoticed, unreported and undocumented. To read this and related stories, visit BBC’s website.

Poachers in Zimbabwe have poisoned waterholes in five game reserves to kill animals, say wildlife officials.

Nine elephants were found dead with their tusks removed from the carcasses.

Five lions also died but officials said their skins were not taken, suggesting they were accidental victims of the poisoning.

The incidents are the first of their type on record and tests are being carried out to determine the nature of the chemicals used.

A spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Caroline Washaya Moyo, said two buffalo were also killed, as were vultures that had eaten the dead animals.

Ms Washaya Moyo said the parks authority had deployed teams in the affected game reserves to investigate the poisoning.

Zimbabwe has been battling to curb poaching, which has mainly targeted rhinoceros and elephants for their horns and tusks.

Ten rhinos have been killed in Zimbabwe by poachers so far this year.

The crime is driven by booming demand for rhino horn in Asia, where it is believed to have medicinal properties, despite ample scientific evidence to the contrary.

Conservationists have warned that rhino populations are facing their worst poaching crisis for decades, especially in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In May, authorities in Kenya seized more than one tonne of ivory at Nairobi’s international airport.

About 115 elephant tusks were found inside metal containers by sniffer dogs.

Officials believe Kenya has become a transit point for international ivory smuggling, largely to Asia.”

Bird life gravely undermined by poisoning for bushmeat in Kenya

Bushmeat is more often associated with mammals (majorly modest to large-sized mammals where herbivores like Giraffes and Antelopes, or primates such as monkeys come to mind first) which are an obvious tourist attractions. It is therefore possible that birds are overlooked as a lesser attraction yet many of these are important indicator species of the state of the environment, natural crop pest controllers and probably even have a role in breaking the life cycles of disease agents that would otherwise harm man.

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Poisoned Openbills. Openbills are specialist snail feeders.

The much poisoned specialist snail feeder, African Open-billed Stork may have a role in checking Bilharzia by feeding on the water snails of which may include those that harbor the bilharzia vectors. This disease has historical high prevalence in native society set-ups with unfurnished toilet habits and pools of water…which more or less define the status quo in Bunyala. It is worth acknowledging however that Kenya’s birdwatching sector of tourism industry is picking up at the moment with a modest proportion of tourists inclined to birdwatching. Sadly however, the sector may not just live to yield its full potential because important birds’ wetlands inclusive of the unsung Bunyala are losing their bird populations in obscene proportions rendering the sites lacklustre in bird life.

The on-going bird poisoning in Kenya (also known to take place in some irrigation schemes in Uganda) is all aimed at obtaining meat for human consumption-Bushmeat. The technique remains a perfect disguise leaving no trace to follow of how the birds were massacred and an unresolved conundrum on the effects of the poison to the human consumers……but certainly the carcases end up in human beings’ stomachs which follows the illustrated meticulous preparation below. I should humbly warn you esteemed readers to observe viewer discretion for the following images .

A bird (wild duck) is purchased from a poacher

A poison-killed bird (wild duck) is purchased from a poacher

The bird is purchased or picked up as a runaway bird that died away from the poisoning site

Feathers are removed from the bird

Feathers are removed from the bird

Once at home, the bird is prepared-feathers removed- by the mother or child (the case above) at the homestead. The child has no caution of handling the bird whose digestive system may be oozing fluids with the raw poison. Just shows recklessness and there is likelihood that the kid will be subjected to primary intoxication.

Opening up the pre-roasted birrd

Opening up the pre-roasted birrd

The bird is pre-roasted while still with the entrails before opening it up to remove the entrails.

Removing entrails

Removing entrails

The entire digestive system is then removed from the bird. This ideally “removes the parts where the poison is contained”. But what of the poison that circulated in the other body tissues before the bird died?The entrails are disposed off very cautiously lest chicken, cats or dogs feed on them and die instantly! The head (without the beak) and the legs of the bird are however given to the dogs.

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Gizzard showing grit & rice that was laced in Furadan solution & responsible for the ducks death.

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Shockingly, the gizzard which is part of the digestive system but renowned for being tasty is also prepared for cooking and consumption!Bunyala poisoning May 2011 076

The bird is then thoroughly washed, especially the inside body cavity

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The bird is then roasted a second time until all fluids drip dry.

The ready chunk above will be cooked normally and served for a meal.

This indiscriminate killing of birds for meat is a looming threat to the birds’ survival, crippling the avitourism industry and compromising human health. It is a deadly turn of events!

Furadan 5G-Withdrawn but still legal in Kenya

The ruling by the supreme court against revocation of carbofuran tolerances on food in the United States yet again shows us the way to go concerning carbofuran. Clearly, the substance is not justifiably safe.

When FMC announced that they were withdrawing supply of Furadan to Kenya (& East Africa) in 2009, for a moment we believed that biodiversity would be a little safer. But we needed more than just have Furadan withdrawn by the manufacturer. Specifically the Kenyan law on Furadan (other deadly toxic pesticides) needed to specify its position as far as legislation of deadly toxic pesicide is concerned especially following voluntary withdrawal by the legal manufacturer and licenced supplier of the product.

Indeed we saw invigorated buy-back by the Kenyan distributor, JUANCO and welcome support by FMC to be informed where the pesticide was still at large. In a few months, the agrovet shops were out of stock of the poison. Incidences of lion poisoning seemed on the decline whereas bird poachers at irrigation schemes seemed to be absorbed into other professions like fishing and crop farming for the case of Bunyala.

But soon what we feared for most of the indifferent law, its legislators and the enforcers started manifesting itself- Furadan was again within easy reach of poachers….& now, there are ‘new’ forms of the product!Boom! we are in an even more worying situation. Furadan 5G still remains legal in Kenya. Actually it might never even have been withdrawn at all. JUANCO still advertises it on their website whereas the bird poachers applaud the original (FMCs) Furadan as a remarkable biocide and maintain their use of the product even presently.

In my quest for status quo of this lethal killer at the poisoning hot spot in Bunyala, I stumbled on a version that poachers term as not ideal for bird poisoning. Nonetheless, somebody’s got to be using it albeit its unknown true identity and effects.

The substance is packed in a container similar to that of FMC’s Furadan 5G but for the blue cap and seeming faded instructions label. Further, it is strong smelling, crystaline, and the purple (and some black) crystals are certainly coloured by some sort of powder otherwise just clear crystals. The substance also seems to dissolve more readily than the Furadan that was known of FMC.

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Compare the container above with the familiar package on this earlier post.

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Label showing manufacturer, distributor and production date (has nearly out-lived its shelf life)

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Purple and black heterogenous crystals

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Crystals readily colouring the water even before shaking

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Some of the crystals (at the edges) totally discoloured upon shaking the mixture.

Counterfeits are enjoying Furadan’s legal status and its high demand for abuse in Kenya while human and wildlife livelihoods languish in danger from intoxication.

Fish Poisoning in Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by surface area & the largest world’s tropical lake. Overall, the lake supports Africa’s largest inland fisheries therefore a remarkable source of fish at least amongst the riparian local communities and extending into the mainland of the three East African (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania)countries that share the water body.

A middle-man transporting fish from Sio Port to the market away

A middle-man transporting fish from Sio Port to the market away

Lake Victoria’s bordering swamps harbor unique swamp endemic birds. My assignment during the past few months has been to assess these bird species availability and status in the Sio Port Swamp, Kenya’s last but one Important Birds Area.

An example of papyrus swamp endemic bird species

An example of papyrus swamp endemic bird species

Differentiated from my goal however, it appears wildlife poisoning  has followed me with the opportunity throwing itself in my way yet again. While on a lakeward survey for bird species called for by the impenetrability of  the reeds in the swamp, I noted a number of floating fish carcasses as we slowly navigated a little off-shore skirting the swamp while waterborne. Quietly and fearfully, I wondered whether these had been poisoned and as i contemplated asking my guide, one Hamerkop dived onto the surface of the lake picking a sizeable meal of fish carcass. A few meters further on I noticed a flock of Little Egrets also picking lots of floating fish carcasses.

poisoned fish carcass

poisoned fish carcass

poisoned fish

poisoned fish

Little Egrets of which some were seen eating dead fish

Little Egrets of which some were seen eating dead fish

That was not all; Reed Cormorants, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Grey Heron gorged themselves on the fouled meal! and more likely victims were about such as the migrant Osprey.

grey heron

osprey

At this point I was almost sure the fish were victims of poisoning. As a formality, my guide (a fisherman beyond this temporary guiding task) proclaimed that the floating fish carcasses had been poisoned by unscrupulous, greedy fishermen to boost their catch. He dis not know the name of the substance used in poisoning the fish but certainly said it is a chemical substance bought from agrovets (therefore a pesticide) both in Kenya and across the border in Uganda which is just across the Sio bay.

Later on I inquired from a few security personnel that I have befriended at the police base where I camp if they consume fish from the nearby reservoir and are aware they could be intoxicated. Indeed they said the fish poisoning  cases had been so rampant in the past few years and that they had to arrest a couple of deviant fishermen. While they believed the fish poisoning incidences had declined, they acknowledged that there is a likelihood the deal might have assumed an underground profile with many cases going unreported.

Humans at the site and beyond as well as birds are therefore consuming the intoxicated fish likely by pesticide poisons & there is no immediate telling of the effects of the hideous poison.

Breaking Ground on Furadan Ban Talks

On Tuesday, 13 April 2010, WildlifeDirect and the WWF will be joining a battery of government officials at the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss the effect of carbofuran (Furadan) use on wildlife. This meeting has been called by the Agriculture Secretary following WildlifeDirect’s campaign to raise awareness about – and demanding action for – poisoning of lions, birds of prey and other wildlife by deliberate and unintended misuse of this lethal pesticide.

Bones - what will be left by Furadan

Bones - what will be left by Furadan

Though the Agriculture Secretary is acting in reaction to the Prime Ministers hard questions to the Ministry of Agriculture regarding their inaction on the issue of wildlife poisoning, it is still a welcome gesture that they are now willing to discuss this weighty matter. WildlifeDirect had written to the Prime Minister as a last resort after Ministry officials and the bosses at the Pest Control Products Board failed to respond decisively to reports of wildlife poisoning that we supplied.

Tomorrow’s meeting comes in a time when FMC is going to court in a last ditch to try and rescue Furadan in the parent country, the USA. FMC, through their lawyers, will be defending their appeal to stop a US-wide ban on the product. Should their appeal fail, then it will be a victory for wildlife at the very source of the lion-killer pesticide. Elsewhere, FMC has affirmed that even though they are defending their product in the mother country, they have no intention of re-introducing it back to Kenya (and East Africa), where they have withdrawn it from the market.

Even as this is going on, the wrath of this indiscriminate killer has been felt in Scotland where the number of birds of prey diying of pesticide poisoning is on the rise. A report by Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent for the Guardian UK, has revealed that up to 27 birds of prey were poisoned in 2009. The report says that this is one of the worst years for wildlife crime in the country.

“The majority of poisonings carried out across Scotland use Carbofuran, an illegal pesticide in the UK which is also potentially dangerous to humans. It is thought that old stocks of the chemical, which was banned in Britain in 2001, are still being used.” Says another report published at the end of March in the Edinburgh Evening News.

And in Botswana, 40 white-backed vultures were killed in one poisoning incident in Lesoma (a village in North-West District of Botswana) on the week that started on 8 March. In a report appearing in one of Botswana’s leading online paper, MmegiOnline, the poisoning follows another incident in January where 15 white-backed vultures were found dead at Tito village cattle-post after they were poisoned. And in November last yeat, according to the same article in MmegiOnline, “50 globally threatened vultures were poisoned in the Xudum Concession in the fringes of the Okavango. In the incident white-backed and hooded vultures, together with yellow-billed kites, were found dead at two giraffe carcases that had been laced with poison.”

It is incidents like this that motivate us at WildlifeDirect and the Stop Wildlife Poisoning Committee to keep fighting for the ban of this dangerous pesticide here in Kenya as an example to other African and non-African states so that the whole world can be rid of this pestilence.

We will inform you of the outcome of our meeting with the Kenya government officials.

The Continuing Saga of Disappearing Birds in Bunyala

Dear readers,

I have had to partly keep you off from the monotony of bird poisoning in Bunyala to and in part to deal with a larger study area having extended my surveys into a section of a southerly bordering nationally unique Important Bird Area. The area has been renowned to contain 8 of the 9 papyrus and lake Victoria endemic bird species in East Africa. The birds once enjoyed a continuously undisturbed papyrus swamp and most likely a peaceful neighbourhood before the sick culture of poisoning birds using Furadan set in.

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An island of papyrus stands on my background; these are poor given the dry soil conditions and the size. The plants are struggling to attain their massive size after having been slashed down then the culprit delayed digging their root systems out.

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Bunyala Rice Scheme- you can hardly see its end now, and it keeps growing by the day. Bird poisoning goes on in these areas of the irrigation scheme that flood with water.

Walking around the adjoined local centres, one branded ‘Canteen’ and the other ‘Nyadorera’ in Bunyala, agrobusinesses seem to have a disappointingly trace number of visits by customers. As a matter of fact there is only one specialist agroveterinary shop while the other is a general shop and in the farming section are stocked a couple of pesticides and farm inputs. With the intention of finding whether these stocked Furadan, curious dealers turned us away with a bold ‘NO’ in response to the question we asked, ‘If they had any Furadan’ at the general shop and the agrovet. At the agrovet however, my keen assistant spotted the 200gm packs at a lower side shelf and alerted me. But the shopkeepers are sensitive as far as Furadan is concerned and are quick to show you the way out if you are suspected not to be a poacher since poachers somehow have a way of getting the poison for their work without much ado.

Close toBunyala Rice Scheme is Yala Swamp. We have surveyed several kilometers into the site. No people inhabit the area that we have walked so far. Phew! no poisoning here! Indeed there has been no observed poisoning of birds in the IBA hitherto but it is disturbing that you find bird feathers along the paths especially where the habitat is still boggy. Further, none of the endemic bird species has been sighted so far despite our scanning deep into the few papyrus vegetation stands that await to be cleared because we were informed that they are already marked for farming.

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A poor pphoto showing the silhouette of a Swamp Flycatcher still lucky to hold his ground. The undisturbed papyrus endemics like the Papyrus Yellow Warbler and the Papyrus Gonolek are not so lucky

The endemics need these extensive papyrus stands if they are to survive but which unfortunately are no more in this area . These are being impacted on by the locals from upland in Bunyala area.

Yet when we return to the rice scheme on our way back to camp, the killing scenario is the same. Furadan poisoned birds!

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Part of a troupe of poachers loaded with their kill; waders in the sack and African open-billed Stocks on the leading poacher’s back

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USA: zero tolerance for carbofuran – its not safe

Dear all We are pleased to share this press release today from the EPA  

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward to implement the agency’s May 2009 final rule revoking tolerances, or residue limits, for the pesticide carbofuran. EPA continues to find that dietary exposures to carbofuran from all sources combined are not safe.

“The evidence is clear that carbofuran does not meet today’s rigorous food-safety standards,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “EPA has carefully evaluated the scientific issues and has provided more than 500 days of public comment on this decision. It is now important to move forward with the needed public health protections, especially for children.”

Short-term health effects include headache, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, chest pains, blurred vision, anxiety and general muscular weakness.

EPA encourages growers to switch from carbofuran to safer pesticides or other environmentally preferable pest control strategies. Since the tolerances are being revoked, EPA reminds growers that carbofuran should not be applied to any food crops after December 31, 2009. Use of carbofuran after this date could result in adulterated food products, which would be subject to enforcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The United States has a safe and abundant food supply, and everyone should continue to eat a variety of foods, as recommended by the federal government and nutrition experts.

During the objection period, the chemical company FMC Corporation, which manufactures carbofuran, and three grower associations submitted objections to EPA’s tolerance revocations and requested an administrative hearing. EPA has concluded that the regulatory standard for holding an evidentiary hearing has not been met.  EPA’s explanation about why a hearing is not warranted, and the reasons for denying the objections are available on the web and will be published soon in a Federal Register notice.  As part of the administrative process, FMC may appeal the revocation of the carbofuran tolerances to a federal circuit court of appeals.

EPA’s May 2009 action to revoke carbofuran tolerances was the culmination of a regulatory process that began in 2006 when the agency published its risk assessments for carbofuran and determined, in August 2006, that no uses were eligible for reregistration. While FMC has voluntarily canceled 22 carbofuran uses, the elimination of these uses was not sufficient to allow the agency to make a finding that combined dietary exposures to carbofuran from food and water are safe. The process to cancel the remaining carbofuran registrations is under way and will address unacceptable risks to farmworkers during pesticide application and to birds in and around treated fields.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/reregistration/carbofuran/carbofuran_noic.htm

Evading the snow to encounter poisoning

The deadly aspect about Furadan and any other poisoning is its concealed manner of killing. It is even worse when those using the chemical to kill wildlife do it in an unobtrusive way. I mean stealth and seemingly normal movements when in reality they are taking down unsuspecting victims. A monotonous sentences composition for this blog!

In assesing the impact of my education to poachers in Bunyala, a portion of the poachers acknowledge the venture is barbaric and while change to farming appears a difficult shift in lifestyle, some are contemplating embracing the change. But there is the immoral lot who have opted to beat me at the game and deny me access to the actual facts and figures of the still on-going poisoning and realized bird mortality.

During this week, we came across this poacher who was equiped with farming impliments like any other person working in the rice scheme. The fellow seemed to be turning upside down mounds of earth, picking up what we later found out were earthworms and putting them in a cup with Furadan. The bait searching is what gave him away because he seemed to be walking about aimlessly. Suspicious that he was up to some mischief , we had our binoculars on the guy and true to our suspicion the guy was poisoning waders but most shocking was how he was recovering the carcasses of the poisoned birds:

The guy used his cutlass to flatten mounds of earth formed by earthworms and jutting out of the flooding water. These are most ideal bait laying sites if the waders have to see and feed on the bait.

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He then went ahead to lay the bait; eartworms laced with Furadan

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Then came the moment of waiting for the waders to get intoxicated.

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Everytime a substancial number (on average between 4 & 6) of birds became drowsy and dropped on the ground the chap moved in and picked the dying and the dead. The sandpipers that were still strong were strangled!

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Then he pocketed them!

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And pocketted still more!

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My tally was 108 between 11.00 and 12.30. The guy after every trip to gather his spoils headed behind a termite mound where he had hid his sack and made several trips to hide his catch from our probing eyes. Satisfied, he walked away fast and in line with the raised earth mound so we could not capture him before disappearing behind bushes.

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A ruff at the Bunyala irrigation Scheme in eclipse (intermediate) plumage- Most birds are in the transition from post breeding plumage to winter or non-breeding plumage which upon attaining the legs and bills will be dull grey (rather than pinkish -orange).

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This is how the ruffs are flocking in Bunyala to refuel their energy bundles before emabarking on their continuing journey down to South Africa. Such will be the down trend of migrant birds during the remainder of the season which is a long 8 months period lasting from September to about end of April. Unless of course the chemical that is empowering the poachers to poison the poor creatures is banished.

Please keep reading.

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No Furadan for Rice Farming but for Bird Poisoning

Dear Readers,

Apologies for my irregular writing lately. Many atimes I have been confronted by unavoidable field challenges unfavourable for blogging but I will keep doing my best to fully update you whenever the opportunity allows. My posts are therefore bound to be long but interesting so please kindly hang in there and read them through.

The latest development at Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme is the expansion of the cultivation field at least up to twice the former size. While the current size is at least 500ha large, the paddy fields continue to be reclaimed every day extending in all directions and I am informed the locals have been advised to leave no fallow land uncultivated by the national agricultural authorities. It is expected that the rice yields will alleviate the famine situation in our country, Kenya.

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A small section of the extended agricultural land. The trees to the right are part of an untended live fence to a home. Irrigation water has spread into the compounds of most surrounding homes.

Much as this establishment sounds nobly humanitarian, the farmers are pessimistic that the intensive rice growing will bring them any economic fortune on their part. They boldly proclaim being robbed of their effort-draining toiling and moiling by the irrigation board which provides rice farming inputs enticingly labeled subsidized. The farmhands (casual laborers) who also happen to be the land owners say they tediously tend and eventually harvest the crop needless to add are responsible for the daily airing and drying of the cereal at the irrigation board’s storage premises awaiting to be sold. It is the irrigation board that indeed springs back into action to sell the processed cereal when the time comes. From the sale, the irrigation board then takes back what the farmers owe them and the remaining penny is forwarded to the farmers. In the words of the farmers that I talked to, the amount is best described to range between peanuts and negative, to mean you may still owe the board especially if the crop fails and this debt is carried forward to be recovered next season.

From my research perspective, my study site is greatly altered especially the transects that I have been working in. There are more of these now and are tougher to navigate because the maiden ploughing involves ‘deep flooding’ with the water depth in the feeder canals extending up to hip high for an average Kenyan man. My assistants and myself walk the whole day to be able to survey the whole site for bird poisoning. We must admit that in a number of cases we miss out on the poisoning going on on the distal end of the study site which extends beyond the comfortable optical aided view of our binoculars.

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Taking GPS readings and recording bird mortality (myself writing from a low culvert slab and my assistant close by looking on far afield; the other is the photographer)

Talking of poisoning, it is of course Furadan poisoning of birds. Much as the farmers are staggering to keep faith that their intensive rice farming should pay this season, the season has come with fairly good news of no Furadan for rice planting! It does look like someone after decades of deviance is being careful to observe the law for once of Furadan not being allowed for use in rice fields. It must follow the persistence at Wildlife Direct to question the explicit law breaking by the supplier in getting the poison to Kenyan irrigation schemes. Bravo on this move! But the pesticide is still available.

Dangerously wielded by radical bird poachers, the pesticide continues to crash populations of birds through deliberate poisoning for human consumption:

The photos below were taken 2-3 days ago.

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Poisoned African Open-billed Storks in a sack

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A poacher making away with dead birds in a sack

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The purple colour of Furadan showing on the snail baits for the storks; the little faded shade of purple is most likely because the bait was prepared the previous day

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Bounty of the birds being the migration period is not making it any better.A flock of Black-tailed Godwits.

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An unrecovered carcass of a poisoned Black-tailed Godwit by the poachers; one of the cases where we missed out on a bird poisoning incident. Small fishes that come with the flood water had nibbled on the bird’s neck tissues. A larger fish would probably gulp down the whole carcass and also die.

The poachers say the Furadan is still available from sources they are not comfortable to talk about owning up only Uganda as one of these sources. The pesticide’s identity is kept top secret to any stranger and every bit of its evidence is destroyed almost as soon as it is purchased but for the poisonous granules of course. The small pack (see below: note there is no label on the container) now costs around 8.5 dollars (Ksh 600).

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Nonetheless, we are still doing our best in trying to educate the poachers most of whom are torn between the vegetable farming idea and keeping on with the poaching. One factor stands in the way of those undecided. Furadan availability! The good news is a number are increasingly becoming convinced that vegetable farming might just be a better idea and one has offered to look for a piece of land where we can start from.

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An education session: Poachers peering at knowledge in my guide book

Please keep reading. I will be giving you more poisoning updates inclusive of a video clip of how storks are beaten to their death and captured once disoriented by Furadan poison shortly.

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