Poison Takes Toll On Africa's Lions

Kenyan Cattle Herders Are Using The American Pesticide Furadan To Kill The Predators

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access
When Simon walked into a shop - filmed with the hidden camera - he had no problem buying a bottle of Furadan for 120 shillings, or about $2.

There was actually plenty of Furadan on the shelves and we were surprised that the storekeeper didn't ask what we wanted it for. Asked if many people buy Furadan, the shopkeeper told Simon, "So many people buy Furadan."

But when asked what they use it for, the shopkeeper simply laughed.

It seemed clear from stores 60 Minutes visited that shopkeepers knew Furadan was not only used on crops. In fact, some stores which stocked Furadan were in areas where there wasn't a crop for miles.

In its granular form, Furadan is banned in Europe and the United Kingdom; it is severely restricted in the United States. Just a tiny amount from a $2 bottle is enough to kill an entire pride of lions.

Furadan, even when used as directed, is estimated to have wiped out millions of birds in the United States and poses unacceptable risks to human health. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of banning it.

But in Africa, Furadan is perfectly legal as a pesticide. However, when the granules are sprinkled on carcasses, any animal that feeds on them will die. And not just lions - hyenas, leopards, jackals, vultures and other birds die in droves.

"It's inexcusable to use Furadan for killing animals. It wasn't designed for the purpose. It's grossly irresponsible to use it in that way," said Dr. Richard Leakey, the doyen of conservationists in Africa, who has spent years fighting for the conservation of Kenya's wildlife.

"But you can understand why cattle farmers do use it," Simon remarked.

"I can understand why people rob banks. I mean, there are a lot of things I can understand," Leakey replied. "It's irresponsible to put on the market something that is so utterly dangerous to wildlife in a country where wildlife is so critical for our economic future."

Wildlife is in fact crucial for Kenya's economic future. Hundreds of thousands of tourists bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the country. But most Kenyans see very little of that, so there is little incentive to value the wildlife.

"The amount of tourism that's here is not sufficient to offset the cost of these people living with wildlife," said Tom Hill, an American philanthropist who wanted to make wildlife worth something to the people.