Carbofuran Threatens Africa’s Predators

A recent article on the BBC illuminates the wide-spread use of Carbofuran, a very powerful and toxic insecticide, and the ripple-effect felt throughout African ecosystems.  The article presents shocking details on how this insecticide is likely being used to ward of large predators, such as lions and leopards, from cattle herds in rural Kenya and elsewhere.  The powerful toxin is banned for use in Europe and the granular form (which is nearly impossible detect) is banned within the US.  In many developing countries however, no such bans on Carbofuran exist, and many believe it is a perfectly safe insecticide (think DTD use in the US circa 1940).   {Photo by Vance Martin}

Boyd Norton, a member of WILD’s International League of Conservation Photographers, comments on the wide-spread consequences that Carbofuran use could have on the African savanna ecosystem….  

“What concerns me is that, bad as the predator loss is, this represents just the tip of the iceberg. This stuff is deadly to all forms of wildlife and bird life (and humans). And mega-tons of it are being used worldwide, in developing countries especially. Even for its intended purpose, killing insects, this can have serious ramifications when it is spread in areas adjacent to wilderness, parks and other preserves.  External leakage of this and similar chemicals into protected areas can have long-term and serious impact on the total ecosystem. In research for my Serengeti book I’ve found much material relating to such seemingly trivial things as dung beetles and the incredible role they play in maintaining the health of savanna grasslands. Kill the dung beetles and it will ultimately unravel the whole web of the savanna food chain.”

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