Insecticide Killing Lions in Kenya

King of the Jungle, photo courtesy of Galen Frysinger, Photo Courtesy of Galen Frysinger

Safaris in Kenya draw thousands of tourists every year looking to see the “Big 5” in the expansive wilderness and game parks. But visitors are spotting fewer and fewer lions these days with the “King of the Jungle” verging on extinction in Kenya.  Over 35,000 of these majestic cats use to roam in Kenya just 50 years ago. Today, only 2,000 lions remain, according to the Kenya Wildlife service.  The latest weapon being used against the wildlife is a toxic pesticide called carbofuran.

Carbofuran, a poison made by a U.S. company, has been banned for use in the United States and Europe, but can be found in countries like Africa. Herders whose livestock is threatened by lions are killing them by using this toxic insecticide.  Nearly 70 percent of the country’s wildlife is found outside the protected game reserves on Kenya’s plains where wild animals and cattle mix. A growing conflict exists between man and wildlife over land in Kenya as every year the Maasai lose hundreds of their animals to hungry predators. The Maasai warriors once killed the lions by a spear, making it a rite of passage, but today carbofuran is being used to extinguish the lions by poisoning the food chain. Carbofuran causes a hideous and painful death.  Nearly one hundred lions are poisoned each year in Kenya, (many from eating carcasses laced with the deadly insecticide), and there’s almost no hope for new cubs being born outside the reserves to live to adulthood.

lioness craterIf Kenya’s lions continue their precipitous decline, not a single wild lion will be left in the country in 20 years.

Help stop lion poisoning by taking action. The first step:  convince Kenya’s prime minister to get tough on carbofuran use in his country. Sign this petition urging Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga to ban the sale and use of carbofuran in Kenya and support new protections for the country’s endangered lions.

Top photo of male lion courtesy of Galen Frysinger.

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