FMC Corporation’s withdrawal of Furadan from Kenya and their commitment to buy back the entire remaining product is a welcome gesture of commitment from the Philadelphia-based pesticide manufacture, WildlifeDirect has said. WildlifeDirect’s Chairman, Dr Richard Leakey, who has been calling for a ban on this lethal chemical following lion poisonings in the Masai Mara Reserve over a year ago, says it is encouraging that FMC has finally taken action to prevent further poisoning of wildlife using this highly potent pesticide.
FMC announced the withdrawal and the commencement of the buy-back programme following the airing of a documentary on CBS’s 60 Minutes show on Sunday 29 March 2009 in which was reported that the death of some 75 lions had been linked to Furadan poisoning in the Masai Mara.
Although lion poisoning may have prompted FMC’s rapid response, the misuse of Furadan threatens a variety of other species including large predators which are particularly susceptible such as, hyenas, jackals, leopards and others that are considered pests, as well as numerous birds and fish species that are killed with Furadan for human consumption. This practice poses a serious human health threat since the pesticide’s active ingredients, carbofurans, are dangerous to humans. Ingestion of tiny amounts of these compounds can cause paralysis and even death.
Dr Richard Leakey, world renowned for having led the efforts that brought down the massive poaching of elephants in the mid-1980s, has been at the centre of the campaign for the withdrawal of Furadan in Kenya. In response to the announcement from FMC he said,
“I am delighted at the swift response from FMC which is a promising sign of corporate responsibility. WildlifeDirect is looking forward to working with FMC as well as other stakeholders to ensure that this deadly chemical no longer poses a threat to wildlife in Africa”.
Dr Leakey refers to the action by FMC to withdraw this poison of choice for herders, fishermen and bird hunters, as a victory feather to be added to WildlifeDirect’s cap.
Several Kenyan scientists working closely with WildlifeDirect have been studying the use of carbofuran in the various wildlife poisoning applications. Dino Martins, a PhD scholar at Harvard University has written a report on the use of carbofuran for fishing in Lake Victoria. The tragedy is double, poisoned fish are sold for human consumption and given away to HIV-AIDS orphans. Martin Odino, based at Nature Kenya, has been conducting a long term investigation on the use of Furadan to poison wild birds in Bunyala rice growing region since February 2009. Odino has documented alarming numbers of poisoned birds of several species in this area that he calls ‘a Furadan hotspot’. He predicts that Furadan use could have devastating effects on Kenya’s wetland birds’ diversity in the near future.
As a follow-up to their announcement, FMC representatives will be visiting Kenya to, amongst other things, ensure that the Furadan Buy-Back Program is working effectively. The buy-back program will be implemented in Kenya by the local distributor, Juanco SPS.
WildlifeDirect welcomes the invitation to work with FMC with whom they will be meeting during their visit to Kenya in the coming days.