The killing fields: The use of pesticides and other contaminants to poison wildlife in Africa

N.L. Richards, D. Ogada, R. Buij, A. Botha

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


People have been poisoning wildlife across the African continent since prehistoric times. The practice began to escalate in earnest following the arrival of colonial settlers in South Africa, in response to attacks on livestock. Substances like strychnine, cyanide, and organochlorine, organophosphorus, and carbamate pesticides have been favored in more contemporary times. Emblematic species such as lions, elephants, rhinoceros, and vultures now face extinction. Notwithstanding the numerous treaties that have been ratified to protect wildlife across the continent and international borders, poisoning continues unabated. Recent alarming trends include the widespread use of pesticides to procure wild animals for food and/or traditional medicine. Ongoing constraints include a perception at all levels of African society that poisoning wildlife is justified and the lack of awareness or enforcement of existing regulations and laws. Community outreach campaigns and strategic capacity-building that supports wildlife custodians and law enforcement are key to redressing the poisoning of wildlife in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Anthropocene
EditorsD.A. Dellasala, M.I. Goldstein
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780128096659
ISBN (Print)9780128135761
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Biodiversity
  • Bushmeat
  • Carbamate
  • Conflict (human-wildlife)
  • Cyanide
  • Human health
  • Law enforcement
  • Organophosphate
  • Pesticide
  • Poaching
  • Poisoning
  • Wildlife

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