From: Reuters
Published April 28, 2008 10:15 AM

Kenya conservationists seek chemical ban as hippos die

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Conservationists in Kenya demanded on Monday that the government ban the pesticide carbofuran after five hippos died and four lions were paralyzed.

Rangers in the sprawling Maasai Mara game reserve found traces of the granular pesticide, which is used to kill insects in food crops, in the hippos' bodies and in areas where they grazed. The sick lions had been feeding on the hippo carcases.

Renowned Kenyan environmentalist Richard Leakey said carbofuran was extremely toxic, cheap and freely available, and he urged the government to follow the example of Europe and the United States by banning its importation and sale.

"We believe there are significant human health concerns and environmental risks associated with using this chemical, which is widely abused because it is easily available over the counter," Leakey said in a statement.

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Carbofuran concerns were first raised in Kenya in the 1990s when it was reported to have killed huge numbers of birds and entered the human food chain. There have also been more recent cases of the pesticide being used intentionally to kill predators like lions and other wildlife.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis, edited by Richard Meares)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com/)

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