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Reports of Lion Poisoning and Carbofuran

  • 04/02/09
  • Kissui

Thanks to recent coverage by the US television network CBS on lion poisoning in Kenya, many people are becoming aware of the ongoing threats to lions due to poisoning using the agricultural pesticide carbofuran.

In areas where poisoning has occurred in Maasai Steppe, people have used a white powder, which I am not certain is carbofuran, but I have a sample that is being tested to find out its chemical composition. Retaliatory killing of lions by spearing is much more common in the Maasai Steppe, and it’s possible that pastoralists use poisoning as a second resort.

Livestock predation and retaliatory killing of predators is an enormous conservation challenge in the Maasai Steppe and other parts of Africa. Poisoning affects my research by killing animals in the study population. This could have far reaching effects on the population dynamics of both targeted and untargeted animals.

The number of lions has declined dramatically over the past three decades to less than 50,000 individuals across the African continent. I’ve previously blogged about the methods we are using to combat retaliatory killing such as mapping lion movements in and out of protected areas, reinforced bomas to protect livestock from predation, and surveying local communities.

Check out the recent CBS news report on lion poisoning. The report attributed recent lion deaths to the misuse of Furadan. The good news is that FMC Corp., the Philadelphia-based company that manufactures Furadan, recently announced it would take measures to stop the misuse of its product—a step AWF welcomes.

We will continue to keep our readers and supporters informed about the plight of Africa’s lions and our work to protect them. Please join us and support lion conservation by clicking the button on the right side of this blog, or by clicking here.

About the Author

Lions are rapidly declining across Africa. Bernard Kissui, AWF’s Lion Research Scientist, is working with lions and people in northern Tanzania to prevent further loss of one of Africa’s greatest animals. Kissui is studying the movements of lions in and out of Tarangire National Park and works with local people to prevent the loss of livestock which leads to human-lion conflict. Equipped with his Ph.D., field equipment, sound relationships with local communities, and fierce determination, Kissui plans to bring lions roaring back to the Tarangire ecosystem.

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