On the 25th of April investigators discovered three dead lions near Lemek in the Masai Mara ecosystem which occurred on the 22nd of April 2010. The lions lay dead in a traditional homestead where they had been poisoned by eating a cow laced with pesticides by a Masai family. A lioness had died about 5-10 meters away from the cow carcass. The carcasses of a juvenile male and second lioness lay some 30m away. There were piles of dead flies around the cow carcass and the lions had not yet been scavenged. KWS arrested a local man who admitted that he had poisoned the lions with his neighbors. He produced a container that contained pink powder, which he had used to poison the lion. The same pink coloring was visible on the laced meat of the cow carcass used for the poisoning. KWS have sent samples of the lion carcasses and the pink substance have been sent for toxicological tests to confirm what pesticide was used.
The suspect confirmed that the cow carcass that was laced belonged to him and other family members, and that it had been killed by lions when his herd’s boy was grazing livestock. The suspect was taken to the police by KWS but despite the admission of guilt and evidence provided, he was released shortly thereafter. According to sources who wish to remain anonymous, a local politician intervened on his behalf.
This incident brings to 8 the number of confirmed poisoning cases of lions in recent weeks in southern Kenya, the other five occurring near the Amboseli National Park. In their National Conservation and Management strategy for Lions and Hyenas, the Kenya Wildlife Service state that “poisoning is perhaps the greatest threat to predators and scavenging birds” and reveal that Kenya’s lion population has declined to fewer than 2,000 individuals and estimates that only 1,970 individuals remain. KWS confirm that 2010 has started off badly for lions – in addition to 8 confirmed poisonings, more than 10 other lions have been killed in other circumstances; A lion was shot in or near Buffalo Springs Reserve, Samburu District, by local police, while others have been speared near Amboseli National Park.
In response to this incident, Richard Leakey the Chairman of WildlifeDirect has again called for the government to take action “The future of tourism in Kenya is at risk if dangerous pesticides used to kill lions like Carbofuran (sold locally as Furadan) remain on the market and cases of abuse are not followed up and culprits are set free time and time again. The Kenyan government must show it’s seriousness and take swift action on availability of deadly pesticides like Furadan and the enforcement of the law in obvious incidents of pesticide abuse such as this. Failing this Kenya’s lions go extinct in a matter of years which will cause a catastrophic loss in potential tourism revenues ” .
Conservationists in Kenya warn that carbofuran is the most widely used pestsicide to kill wildlife pests such as lions and leopards in the country. It is also used in pesticide fishing and hunting of birds for human consumption. Carbofuran is a neurotoxin that is deadly to fish, birds in irrigation schemes, cats and even humans. Due to it’s toxicity and negative impacts, carbofuran is not permitted for use in agriculture in the European Union and use in USA where it is manufactured, was recently revoked after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found it unsafe for users, consumers and wildlife. After incidents of lion poisoning in Kenya became public in 2008, the manufacturers of Furadan, FMC withdrew the product from Kenyan shelves. However, carbofuran is not banned and Furadan can still be found in some places, and the active ingredient carbofuran occurs in other over-the-counter pesticides.
WildlifeDirect is a conservation charity registered in USA and Kenya, and based in Nairobi. We enable conservationists at the front lines to tell their stories and raise awareness about their work through over 80 blogs from the field on the website platform http://wildlifedirect.org. The Chairman of WildlifeDirect is Dr. Richard Leakey and the Executive Director is Dr. Paula Kahumbu. Visit http://wildlifedirect.org for more information
Furadan: WildlifeDirect is campaigning for the de-registration or total ban on the active ingredient of Furadan, carbofuran in Kenya due to the threats it poses to users, consumers and wildlife. This pesticide threatens the survival of lions, vultures, fish species and many other mammals and birds In Kenya. Furadan is produced in USA by FMC and is sold locally by Juanco SPS as an agricultural insecticide. For more information on our campaign against wildlife poisoning visit http://stopwildlifepoisoning.wildlifedirect.org
KWS is the government body responsible for wildlife conservation in Kenya. For more information visit http://www.kws.org
For other photographs or more information please contact Paula Kahumbu [email protected], or call 0722685106, or 020 2602463