Tag Archives: Wildlife

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.”

Continuing Bunyala Bird poisoning Woes

Dear readers. Its been 3 years since Furadan was pulled off by FMC from Kenya. That notwithstanding, Furadan is still in full scale availability and use in some of our rice irrigation schemes but sadly for anything but proper agricultural application. The source of the poison enjoys loyal concealment by the poachers with varrying and confusing tales of its distributors such as it is the old stock that some vendors keep to date and sell it to the poachers at exhorbitant rates. Others say it is crossing in from Uganda while other openly lie that it can be purchased across the counter from local agrovet shops.

Bunyala poisoning May 2011 105

Rice mixed with Furadan for killing ducks

In Bunyala, the local rice irrigation scheme boasts an endless expanse attracting lots of birds and we (my assistant, Terry & myself) could not stop being baffled that at least 5 waders from the palaearctic region- Common Greenshank, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Ringed Plover & Curlew Sandpiper- are still foraging and roosting at the site way past the time they should be gone to their breeding lands; probably just shows how optimal conditions are for the varied species.

At the moment, the Fulvous Whistling Ducks are congregating in historical large numbers as has ever been witnessed in any local’s remeberable past.

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A flock of Fulvous Tree Ducks at Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme

This species is said to come from a nearby large scale farming enterprise-Dominion Farm-apparently because food and wetland conditions have turned in their favor in Bunyala. The congenic White-faced Whistling duck used to be more common in Bunyala but has since been seen to decline to almost none due to poisoning by poachers. The fate of this duck is therefore uncertain but there is a high likelihood of it being exterminated at the site as well.

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Poacher collecting intoxicated Fulvous Whistling Ducks

Other species at risk have also been observed and include the Knob-billed Duck

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The Knob-billed Duck

and the African Yellow-billed Stork.

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A pocher’s catch: Openbills & Yellowbill.

The explicitly poisoned African Openbill is still faced by its merciless killing woes employing live decoy individuals to attract them to poison bait.

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Captive Openbill decoy

Generally, sacks of birds are harvested from the site each day.

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Poacher carrying away a sack of birds-Openbills and Yellowbills

Furadan 5G still enjoys legal status in Kenya with these destructive effects to Kenyan Wildlife and likely, to people.

Court rules against FMC on Carbofuran ban

Dear Friends,

We have just heard from the Defenders of Wildlife that the DC Circuit yesterday rejected a request by FMC Corporation, the manufacturer of carbofuran, and several U.S. users of carbofuran, for a stay of EPA’s decision to revoke food tolerances of the deadly pesticide. FMC and some organizations were trying to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing their decision at the end of this year.

This court ruling means that the EPA’s decision to revoke all tolerances of carbofuran will take effect after December 31, 2009.

However it does not affect exports of Furadan – one of the the primary causes of death of lions in Africa.

Poisoned lions

The Defenders of Wildlife are running their own campaign to ban Carbofuran.

Carbofuran is a threat in Thailand

Its not just in Kenya, activivists in Thiland have just reported that Carbofuran in Thailand is a major Public Health Risk

In Research on 22/11/2009 at 1:33 pmTo be translated and distributed at the upcoming  ?????????????????????????????????? ???????? 9 (The 9th National Plant Protection Conference)

For background information, please visit our report Turning Crisis Into Opportunity and our first press release

Ubon Ratchatani, Thailand, 23 November 2009 – Following the incident surrounding the plant disease “natural disaster”[1] in Kudchum district, Yasothon province, the AAN has compiled further research to raise public awareness about the impacts of carbofuran (Furadan) on the environment and human health.

The Alternative Agriculture Network – Esan (AAN) is a network of more than 3,000 small-scale farmers, working to develop sustainable agricultural techniques, support local food systems and community livelihoods.  We also monitor agriculture and trade policies at both the domestic and international levels.  The continued promotion of chemical fertilizer and pesticide imports is of major concern to our network, given the Thai government’s spoken commitment to supporting small-scale farmers and organic agriculture.

Carbofuran is a broad spectrum, systemic insecticide that is used on a range of crops, including rice, corn, watermelon, eggplant, and a number of other fruit and vegetable crops.  Thailand imports over ten thousand tons of carbofuran per year. In 2004, Thailand exported to neighboring countries 1,160 tons of insecticides, 1,203 tons of fungicides, and 1,333 tons of herbicides.[2]

Carbofuran is highly toxic and depresses the human nervous system. Pesticide poisonings have stayed at a low level since the late 1990s, but unsafe levels of blood cholinesterase activity (direct result of carbamate chemicals) has doubled from about 15% to 30% by occupation in Thailand.  Farmers are reported to have the highest number of poisonings within 2,342 cases in 2003.[3] The Extension Toxicology Network has found symptoms of carbofuran poisoning to include, “nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, sweating, diarrhea, excessive salivation, weakness, imbalance, blurring of vision, breathing difficulty, increased blood pressure, and incontinence. Death may result at high doses from respiratory system failure associated with carbofuran exposure.”[4]

Canada and the EU have banned carbofuran since 2008.  The United States Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) recently banned its use, finding that “Exposure to the pesticide carbofuran resulting from existing legal uses is unsafe—unsafe for the general population, and particularly unsafe for infants and children.”[5] Carbofuran commonly causes burns on the skin and eyes of farmers, but there is a range of serious impacts on farmer health.  Long-term effects may include permanent damage to both the nervous and reproductive systems.[6]

In a 1998 carbofuran exposure case study by The Centers for Disease Control, 34 cotton farm workers reported nausea, headache, eye irritation, muscle weakness, tearing, vomiting, and salivation.[7] Additionally, thirteen cases of unintentional carbofuran poisoning in farm workers were examined between January 2002 and August 2004.  The patients reported nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, dizziness and blurred vision.[8] In a 2005 study of pesticide applicators in the United States, it was found that the risk of lung cancer was 3 times higher for those with more than 109 of lifetime exposure to carbofuran than those with less than 9 days of lifetime exposure to the chemical.[9]

Carbofuran poses significant environmental risks.  Because of its long soil half-life (up to 60 days) carbofuran also has a high potential for groundwater contamination and is mobile in sandy and silt loam soils.[10] Compared to other pesticide residues tested in water resources in Fang and Chaiprakan districts, Chiang Mai province, carbamate residues, including carbofuran, were found at the highest levels, between 0.018 and 0.269 micrograms per liter (ug/L).[11]

The use of pesticides also has significant impacts on ecological systems.  Carbofuran pellets often resemble plant seeds commonly eaten by birds and are often applied on newly cultivated soil.  One highly toxic granule can kill a small bird and carbofuran moves up the food chain when birds are eaten by predatory species.  This chemical is also highly toxic to fish, and is believed to be one of the main contributors to the reduction of salmon populations in the northwestern United States.  It is also highly toxic to catfish, a fish commonly consumed in Thailand.  In early 2009, it was reported that carbofuran was being used to poison African lions in Kenya.

Consumers also risk serious health effects from pesticide residues on food and drinking water contamination.  It is our understanding that carbofuran is on the government’s “Dangerous Chemicals Watch List.”  This dangerous agrochemical should be banned in Thailand and Thailand must work to be a leader in regional food safety.  Ending the use of carbofuran will positively address the current public health crisis affecting farmers and ecological systems throughout Thailand.

The Alternative Agriculture Network – Esan (AAN) monitors agricultural and trade policies in order to support and defend the rights of small-scale farmers. The AAN works to develop appropriate and sustainable alternatives for community food security.  For more information about our network, please visit aanesan.wordpress.com or sathai.org

###

Contact:

Bennett Haynes

aanesan.wordpress.com

[email protected]

(+66) 867941588

Carbofuran ban is good for everyone – in USA only

This really good article from Tree hugger explains the benefits of the carbofuran ban in USA

As of the end of the year, one more pesticide will be absent from food crops grown in the United States.

In May the EPA ruled that the current residue limits of the insecticide carbofuran on food crops was too high, and the agency has now decided to fully revoke carbofuran tolerances (more commonly known as residue limits). What this means is no carbofuran residue on a food will be deemed acceptable as of 2010. The move follows in the footsteps of the European Union, which banned carbofuran nearly a year ago. But the U.S. ban isn’t all that surprising–it has, after all, been three years in the making.

What Is Carbofuran?

Carbofuran is a white crystalline solid insecticide used to control nematodes, rootworm, and beetles. It is sprayed on soil and plants, just after the plants emerge from the ground. Carbofuran is used on a number of crops, including alfalfa, rice, grapes, and corn.

While there is no evidence to suggest carbofuran is carcinogenic, the World Health Organization has determined carbofuran a cholinesterase inhibitor, which means it blocks neural transmissions.

The health effects of short-term exposure to carbofuran include headache, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, chest pain, blurred vision anxiety, and muscle weakness, all of which can be reversed, according to the EPA. But the long-term effects are far more serious: permanent damage to the nervous system and the reproductive system.

For the average person who does not work with carbofuran, exposure routes include both residues on foods and drinking water contamination from farm runoff.

Cabrofuran is also a problem for wildlife. Earlier this year, reports emerged that carbofuran is responsible for poisoning of African lions.

The Benefits of Going Carbofuran-Free

The move will minimize risks to agricultural workers and the environment, but it will also improve food safety, says Steve Ownes, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances:

The evidence is clear that carbofuran does not meet today’s rigorous food-safety standards. [The] 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.

The move also helps keep carbofuran out of fresh water sources, which has been on the EPA radar.

Carbofuran Cancellation Timeline

The move to revoke carbofuran residue limits was a long and careful process that weighed the risks against the benefits of using the insecticide.

In 2006, the EPA identified considerable dietary, occupational, and ecological risks related to the use of carbofuran. The agency decided the risks outweighed the benefits of using the pesticide, and set out to cancel the use of the pesticide.

In January 2008, the EPA submitted a draft Notice of Intent to Cancel use of carbofuran to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Following review from the FIFRA panel and the USDA, the EPA decided to move forward with canceling the use of carbofuran.

In March 2009, FMC Corporation, which produces carbofuran, voluntarily canceled uses, with the exception of use on field corn, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflowers, pine seedlings, and spinach grown for seed. Artichokes were supposed to be given a two-year phase-out period.

On October 30, 2009, the EPA announced all crops would be subject to the December 31, 2009 deadline for revoking carbofuran tolerances, doing away with previous phase-out plans.

According to an EPA press release, the agency is currently encouraging growers to prepare to switch to “safer pesticides or other environmentally preferable pest control strategies,” adding that carbofuran should not be applied to food crops after the end of the year, in order to comply with the new standards.

3 year old Child dies after eating Furadan in Kenya

Dear friends,

We can confirm the tragic reports of a human death due to carbofuran poisoning. Just today we spoke on phone with the heartbroken father of a child who died of Furadan poisoning. The report of this death first appeared on Kenya’s The Standard newspaper on Friday, 30 October 2009 saying that on Monday, 26 October 2009, the child had mistakenly ingested Furadan and died.

The child’s father informed us that the child died on arrival at the Cherangani Nursing Home in Trans Nzoia East District in western Kenya. The father had bought the pesticide four months ago for use in killing insects in the soil when preparing his vegetable nursery. He says that he was not aware how dangerous the product is and was not informed by the retailer about the first aid approach in case of pesticide ingestion. He gave his child milk and crushed eggs – a method of dealing with poisoning widely used in Africa – instead of water as the label says.

This tragedy could have been avoided – the father, an educated man  (he is a teacher at a local primary school) did not get the impression that this pesticide was deadly. The packaging in kenya does not carry teh universal symbol of death – the skull and crossbones.

Please join us in sending our sincere condolences to the parents of 3 year old Kimutai, and pray that he rests in peace.

We hope that Kimutai did not die in vain and that the Kenyan government takes appropriate action by baning carbofuran in Kenya immediately.

FMC respond to report on lion killing with carbofuran

In a recent statement the FMC responded to the rebroadcasting of the CBS 60 Minutes show on the poisoning of lions.

Note my comments in bold italics against their claims reproduced here

In The News

· We expanded our contact with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Africa to improve reporting of suspected poisonings.July 26, 2009 FMC Response to 60 Minutes Rebroadcast of Story on Kenyan Lion Poisonings

Apart from the Masai Wildlands Trust we are not aware of any other NGO’s that FMC are talking to in Kenya and FMC have not responded to any of the incident reports sent and Linda Froelich has stopped responding  to our emails

On Sunday, July 26, CBS News 60 Minutes rebroadcasted 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. As we stated when the story first aired in March, FMC strongly condemns the misuse of its products that are clearly intended to be used for crop protection. We are very concerned about allegations that the product has been used illegally to kill wildlife. The company has taken several actions to address the situation including:

· Stopped all sales of Furadan to Kenya immediately after learning of an incident in May 2008.

· Initiated a Furadan buy-back program in Kenya in March 2009 to remove any remaining product from the market. Our distributor and conservation groups, such as the Maasailand Preservation Trust, report that Furadan is no longer stocked in Agrovet stores.

carbofuran in Kenyan Agrovets

This is not true. Carbofuran remains available throughout Kenyan Agrovets.

Juanco carbofuran Furadan pesticide wildlife poisoning

The distributors website (Juanco) does not mention that Furadan is toxic to human beings and must be handled with great care.   We believe that the impression given through the label is that Furadan is a safe product.  Juanco now markets itself as safe through the tag line promise ‘Juanco going biological’.

· FMC’s distributor discontinued Furadan sales into Tanzania and Uganda in April 2009. Packages of Furadan in Tanzanian agrovet stores show that carbofuran is still coming into Tanzania from imports via Kenya

· FMC has offered to subsidize Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) lab analysis of samples of animals suspected to have been poisoned with Furadan. The KEPHIS lab uses a more expensive but substantially more sensitive analytical test than other Kenyan labs.

We have seen nothing in writing to confirm this and the KEPHIS laboratories seem oblivious of this. They have refused to test our samples 

· FMC has requested all information about suspected wildlife poisonings from the Kenyan Wildlife Service under their official procedures.

The official procedure is not to report to FMC but to the Pest Control Products Board in Kenya (PCPB) who have not met with KWS or conservationists to discuss concerns. Neither the PCPB nor FMC have responded to any of our submitted reports. On phone the PCPB CEO insisted that the data collected did not constitute facts that they could go on – dates, locations, photographs of incidents, samples collected, confessions. 

In April, FMC sent a second team to Kenya (first team was sent in March 2008) to get a more comprehensive understanding of intentional misuse of chemicals in the longstanding human-wildlife conflict. The team met with several NGOs as well as government officials from both the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The NGOs made a firm commitment to report all suspected cases of lion poisonings involving Furadan directly to the government and to FMC. To help encourage accurate reporting, we sent the NGOs specific information on what to look for if witnessing a poisoning event or if poisoned animals are found as well as our offer to subsidize lab analyses through KEPHIS. We continue to strongly encourage NGOs to include substantiated evidence to support their reports to government and FMC on suspected Furadan intoxications.

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 Furadan and any other pesticides used to kill wildlife.

From where we sit FMC make gross exaggerations about their stewardship programs in third world countries. FMC are aware of the scale of misuse of Furadan in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and other countries. FMC do not monitor whether Furadan is being used safely by farmers or test for contamination of groundwater or test for residues on crops produced and sold in local markets. Whatever information FMC has on the impact of Furadan on workers, consumers, users and the environment are not shared with any of the conservation organizations concerned about this product.

Furadan use is not restricted in East Africa. Users of Furadan can buy this deadly product over the counter for a very small fee throughout East Africa. Users are not registered, trained nor warned about the dangers of misuse, spills or symptoms of poisoning. It is sold in Agrovets (kiosks) by non professionals and in locatiosn that do not have effective poison control mechanisms, poison treatment centers, toxicology centers, residue monitoring of products, safe poison disposal mechanisms, pesticide monitoring or enforcement systems in place. FMC knows that Agrovets in East Africa actively offer Furadan to buyers as “Lion kille”. They have done nothing to raise local awareness about the dangers and penalties of misuse. Despite the evidence sent to FMC and the PCPB, no Kenyan has been charged and found guilty of Furadan misuse.

We invite FMC to reconsider the impact of their product on users, consumers and wildlife in Africa and withdraw the product completely and dispose of it safely while discontinuing the production of so dangerous a pesticide. The Kenyan pest control board have responded negatively to reports sent to them and declared that they will not investigate reports made by WildlifeDirect. The FMC could help by insisting that these investigations be carried out.

Carbofuran ban in USA will affect imports

The implications of the revocation of carbofuran tolerances which we reported previously will spread well beyond USA as it will affect all food imports. This note is from an article in WildifeExtra

The Worldwide implications of carbofuran ban in USA

“The revocation of all food tolerances has international implications, as imports of rice, coffee, bananas and sugarcane were previously allowed to contain residues of carbofuran,” said Dr. Fry of the  “After this revocation, countries wishing to export these foods to the US must stop using carbofuran on these four major crops.”

Dr. Michael Fry, is the American Bird Conservancys Director of Conservation Advocacy

coffee bags Kenya

It will be very hard for African governments to ignore this.  Kenya in particular will be affected because it is a major exporter of coffee to USA.

Carbofuran also misused in USA

We have been talking mostly about the misuse of  carbofuran in Africa and we sometimes feel despondent at the hopelessness of the situation facing lions, hyenas, vultures and other animals not to mention African farmers and consumers. In Africa carbofuran is easily available over the counter,  it is very cheap and is an extremely effective at killing pests.

Well it’s not that easy to get your hands on carbofuran in UK and USA but the fact that it’s such an effective killer motivates some people to misused it there  also.

Here is a list of the most recent incidents

Texas man sentenced for poisoning wildlife

Eric Laney Bryant, 45, of Raymondville, who operated a hunting guide service, injected the registered restricted-use pesticide Carbofuran into deer meat and placed the poisoned bait on his property in January 2009 in an effort to kill coyotes.

The Missouri Department of Conservation found three dead domestic dogs, several dead coyotes, a dead gray fox, a dead skunk, a dead red-tailed hawk and three dead American crows on his property.

He was found guilty and was ordered to pay a $500 fine after pleading guilty to all three counts of poisoning wildlife in Texas County.

Rare red kite poisoned with carbofuran in UK

Oct 21: The body of the female Red Kite was found by a member of the public in woodland in Lindley Green near Otley.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said the bird initially survived after being shot but died as a result of poisoning with carbofuran which has been banned in the UK since 2001.

Pc Gareth Jones said: “This case demonstrates bird of prey persecution in North Yorkshire is still occurring.”

Cats killed with carbofuran in UK

On September 13th a cat killer used carbofuran to poison a teenager’s pets. The SSPCA is urging pet owners not to approach anyone they suspect of poisoning animals. Anyone with information should contact the SSPCA’s animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

We hope that all the culprits are brought to book and that the ban on carbofuran can go beyond USA ures and to the heart of the operation – the production of this deadly poison should be stopped.

10 more lions poisoned in Masai Mara

WildlifeDirect has been raising the alarm about cattle in Kenya’s parks for some time know – cattle grazing in the park will lead to conflict with lions and this has an inevitable outcome. CAttle will die and then lions will be killed  in retaliation.  We warned of diseases when cattle started dying in the parks, and Dino wrote about it in his blog dudu diaries here.  The authorities ignored our comments and concerns about the cattle invasion when we warned that an Anthrax outbreak would affect cattle, wildlife and people.  I even went on radio about it and finally it seems, people woke up and began to listen.

In a recent article in the Daily Nation, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) admitted that

A total of 10 lions have been killed by herders who have lost their cattle to the large cats. In one case, farmers poisoned a carcass and it left for the lions. It killed not just a lion, but also 300 vultures that ate the carcasses of the cow and the lion”.

No doubt these ten lions were from one pride and were poisoned. The loss of 300 vultures suggests that the poisoning was widespread – this could not have been just one incident.We will try to get details on what actually happened and determine if carbofuran was to blame.

The head of the Species Program, Mr Omondi,  warned herders that they should expect to lose some of their animals if they choose to break the law and let them graze in protected areas.

The problem of livestock in game reserves which WildlifeDirect raised on Kiss FM Radio as well as through our blogs is so serious that it has consumed the greatest budget line for KWS during recent months.

The KWS says that the greatest challenge it faces is that in Reserves like the Maasai Mara, the management authority, the Narok County Council, turns a blind eye to the herders. Sadly the same is true of KWS who have for years allowed grazers into parks during annual dry seasons.To date we do not know of a single herder that has been prosecuted for illegal grazing, or of poisoning lions, vultures, hyenas or other animals.

This story reveals just how difficult it is for KWS to control the situation and protect Kenya’s lions.  Lions live mainly in areas that are not under KWS control. Many protected areas are poorly managed. There is nothing stopping herders from entering parks and reserves – even if one is caught, there are no penalties. Moreover, there are no incentives for communities to protec t lions and other wildlife outside of the protected areas. When  livestock are killed, the KWS is supposed to compensate owners, but this is a lengthy and controversial if not poorly managed process. Add tho this the easy access to pesticides like deadly carbofuran and any pastoralist can solve the problem of predation in an instant. Just a few granules of the purple killer will deal with an entire pride plus any other stragglers or plike hyenas.