Con­cerned about wildlife poi­son­ing, lob­bies set up on­line data base t

The East African - - OUTLOOK - By RUPI MANGAT Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

IN 2005, while re­search­ing on Mackinder’s ea­gle owls around Ny­eri in Kenya’s cen­tral high­lands, con­ser­va­tion­ist Darcy Ogada re­alised that they were be­ing poi­soned.

Farm­ers were us­ing to­ma­toes laced with Fu­radan, a toxic pes­ti­cide, to kill mice and mouse­birds, which are prey for the Mackinder’s ea­gle owls, hence poi­son­ing the owls as well.

Dr Ogada and oth­ers raised the alarm and Martin Odino, a young zo­ol­o­gist, doc­u­mented the poi­son­ing of birds, croc­o­diles, dogs, li­ons and other wildlife.

Fu­radan, which is reg­is­tered as a ne­mati­cide, a pes­ti­cide to kill ne­ma­todes like soil worms, was also be­ing used by pas­toral­ists to poi­son li­ons and other big cats. In other places like Bun­yala in western Kenya, it was be­ing used to kill birds for hu­man con­sump­tion.

The use of Fu­radan – with the lethal car­bo­fu­ran as the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent — was found to be ram­pant around rice schemes killing ev­ery­thing from snails to pi­geons and storks.

Farm Ma­chin­ery and Chem­i­cals, the Amer­i­can man­u­fac­turer of Fu­radan, with­drew the agro-pes­ti­cide from Kenya in March 2009 and in May 2009 ex­e­cuted a buy-back of the stock after a con­ser­va­tion­ists, led by Wildlifedi­rect, pressed for its ban.

Al­though poi­son­ing has been used for pest and wildlife con­trol for years, its use to har­vest food has wor­ried con­ser­va­tion­ists.

“There are many poi­sons be­ing used, but the worst are the car­ba­mate pes­ti­cides,” Dr Ogada said. “They are easy to get, cheap and ef­fec­tive.”

It is easy for farm­ers, or any­one, to buy a num­ber of lethal pes­ti­cides from agrovets in Kenya. With no mon­i­tor­ing by the reg­u­la­tors after ap­prov­ing pes­ti­cides for gen­eral use, it al­lows for their mis­use in­clud­ing wildlife poi­son­ing.

In the past five years, poach­ers across Africa have in­ten­si­fied the killing of vul­tures by poi­son­ing car­casses of ele­phants killed for their tusks. Vul­tures are a dead give­away to where a car­cass is, as their over­head cir­cling helps author­i­ties to lo­cate the poach­ers.

And it gets worse. Dr Ogada, who is now an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor Africa Pro­grammes at the Pere­grine Fund which is run­ning the United Against Wildlife Poi­son­ing cam­paign Mara Li­ons and Bir says wa­ter­ing holes ed by poi­sons.

The lob­bies have base that doc­u­ment help es­tab­lish the d son­ing. The data is fe­poi­son­ing.org.

“The data­base wi gu­ments about regu and give us a bet­ter mo­ti­va­tion for the p stop it,” she said.

In Africa, the mo ing of wildlife is in some hotspots in Ea low num­bers re­flect

There are many poi­sons be­ing used, but the worst are the car­ba­mate pes­ti­cides.” Dr Darcy Ogada, con­ser­va­tion­ist

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