By KENFREY KIBERENGE
Poachers in Bunyala are using the deadly pesticide Furadan to poison birds before slaughtering them and selling them to unsuspecting consumers.
A survey, done at the Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme, shows poachers have devised a unique baiting technique where they employ live decoys whose beaks are fastened with a string or rubber band to prevent them from eating the poison-laced baits.
The idea is to attract other birds to join the decoys in consuming the baits. The poachers disturb flocks of birds in the open rice fields, making them to fly directly to the poisoned fields.
Farmers also use the pesticide to poison wild animals that attack their livestock. Last June, there was outrage after it emerged that since 1995, Furadan had been used to kill 76 lions, 15 hyenas, 24 hippos, over 250 vultures, and thousands of other birds.
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- 2 FAO gives Sh42m for pest control project
- 3 Toxic waste shipped out for destruction
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Poisonous to humans.
This happened a month after the United States banned the use of Furadan on crops intended for human consumption, since the pesticide is also known to be poisonous to humans.
The pesticide’s deadly poison kills within 15 minutes of contact.
Martin Odino, the author of the report "Measuring the Conservation Threat to Birds in Kenya from Deliberate Pesticide Poisoning," following the survey, warns bird hunting in Bunyala poses a double threat.
"First, important bird populations are at risk and populations of at least two species have been significantly affected. The regular consumption of bird meat procured using pesticides exposes consumers to potentially lethal concentrations of pesticides," said Odino.
He cautioned that if left unchecked, bird poisoning in Bunyala will have a negative effect on the populations of local and migratory birds and may have already wiped out a number of ducks.
The poisoning has affected almost the entire populations of birds in the scheme, the report says.
Over 200 birds of 500 of the Black-Tailed Godwits have, for instance, been poisoned. The African Openbill ranks as the bird species most frequently killed using pesticides.
The Wood Sandpipers were the second most poison-killed palaearctic, where 126 of 467 exposed to poisoning died.
The Green Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank and Ringed Plover were poisoned in comparatively smaller numbers, but largely due to their small population.
Demand for meat
The study concludes that the very high rate of poisoning of birds in Bunyala Rice Irrigation Scheme is primarily due to the demand for wild bird meat.
The preferred method of procuring this meat is through the use of Furadan, which is cheap and efficient means of killing birds. "The practice of consuming wild meat is cultural and is not linked to the lack of alternative protein in Bunyala," the study says.
Nevertheless, the study establishes that bird poachers were willing to abandon the activity for if provided with financial support to start vegetable growing and other legal businesses.
Although Furadan was withdrawn from the local market for poisoning abuse, poachers can still buy it from Uganda.