Banned poison led to deaths of baboons

By Melanie Gosling Time of article published Aug 23, 2006

Share this article:

The three young baboons that died last week were poisoned with dieldrin, a lethal pesticide that is banned in South Africa and 51 other countries because of its potentially devastating effects on human and environmental health.

Dieldrin, like DDT, is one of the "dirty dozen" poisons banned in countries that have signed the UN's Stockholm Convention.

Jenni Trethowan, who manages the baboon monitors in the peninsula, said the Onderstepoort research institute had run tests on remains of the baboons that died at Kommetjie last week.

"We've just heard that it is dieldrin," Trethowan said on Tuesday.

"It's banned here, but someone must have some and that's what killed them."

Although the use of dieldrin has been banned in South Africa since 1983, it is not illegal to possess it.

Tracy Dicks, a vet at Fourways clinic where the baboons were treated, said she had established that dieldrin caused "massive brain seizures".

Once it was in the system of an animal, there was nothing that could be done to reverse its lethal effects.

"Dieldrin has one of the highest levels of toxicity, just below DDT," Dicks said.

"It just shows what horrible monsters are out there."

The stomach contents of the baboons and sections of organs had been sent to Onderstepoort for testing to establish what poison caused the deaths of the baboons.

Gavin Bell, of the Table Mountain National Park, said: "We condemn any poisoning of any wildlife and will help the City of Cape Town to search for where the dieldrin is coming from.

"If animals can get hold of it, it also poses a serious risk to people, especially children."

Gerhard Verdoorn, of Birdlife Africa, said: "Dieldrin is as toxic as strychnine and causes a horrible, slow death."

Share this article: