In late October, a three-year-old boy in Western Kenya intentionally ate a handful of carbofuran, a lion-killing pesticide, and later was found dead by his father.
"I am sure he ate it, because he had [the pesticide] in his hand and in his mouth," the father Nahashon Kigai told National Geographic.
He said he had bought a power type carbofuran (which is more loosely regulated than the liquid type) months ago for his crops, and later he put them into a small container, which may have triggered his son's interest.
Carbofuran, made by San Jose-based FMC Corp and sold under the name Furadan, is an odorless poison used by farmers to kill lions, hyenas and other wild animals to protect their livestocks. In 2008, FMC stopped selling the chemical in Kenya under pressure of a campaign organized by conservationists after four lions and several other animals were killed by the pesticide.
However, Furudan can still be reached in stores in rural area of the country. More disturbingly, the packages are all in English, a foreign language which is hard for the local people to understand, and there are no labels to make it clear how harmful the pesticide could be for human beings.
FMC has started the investigation in Kenya to gather facts.
Dereck Joubert, one of the conservationists who has campaigned against Furudan, said the most important action is to ban the chemical in the whole continent.
"We need to use whatever networks we've got, whatever political power we've got, to impose on FMC to pull this product out of Africa—that's the bottom line," he said.