The power of poison: Study examines pesticide poisoning of Africa's wildlife

March 19, 2014

Poisons are silent, effective and cheap, making the especially dangerous in Africa where they are used for both pest control and illegal poaching. However, as a new study in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences reveals, they also kill un-intended wildlife.

Africa has a long history of using poison, both for early tribal warfare and for hunting. Synthetic poisons however were introduced, like so many things, by European colonialists in the 19th century. In southern Africa colonial administrators sanctioned the of predators and scavengers, a practice which would continue far into the 20th century.

Dr. Darcy Ogada, from The Peregrine Fund, Nairobi, explores the impact of these campaigns and the proliferation of poisoning in the 1980's and 1990's as the commodification of Africa's natural resources continued to rise. The study reviews legislation across the continent, but finds that legal loopholes and lax enforcement remain barriers to wildlife protection.

After reviewing a breakdown of species whose populations have been ravaged by poisoning, Dr Ogada calls for the establishment of regional pesticide centers across Africa that can identify pesticide hotspots and hold a mandate for chemical testing, education and public engagement.

Explore further: Dubai seizes 259 smuggled African ivory tusks

More information: Darcy Ogada, The Power of Poison: Pesticide poisoning of Africa's wildlife¸ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,

Related Stories

Drought and downing equal vulture supermarkets

January 9, 2014

African vultures are famous for quickly finding carcasses; so much so that they are considered clairvoyants in parts of Africa. But just how do vultures know where to find food across vast regions in the first place? In ...

Rallies in S.Africa to save the king of beasts

March 16, 2014

Wildlife campaigners joined rallies around South Africa Saturday in an international push to protect the lion and save the king of beasts from being raised in cages for "canned hunting".

Recommended for you

New protein cleanup factors found to control bacterial growth

October 8, 2015

Biochemists have long known that crucial cell processes depend on a highly regulated cleanup system known as proteolysis, where specialized proteins called proteases degrade damaged or no-longer-needed proteins. These proteases ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.