• Last September, the Watamu Association wrote to the Environment PS Chris Kiptoo complaining that the slow-release poison Starlicide is not available in Kenya.
• Starlicide metabolises rapidly over 10 to 12 hours and if a poisoned crow is found dead, it can be eaten safely by a scavenger such as a dog or a vulture.
A company licensed to import poison used to kill the Indian House Crow invading Mombasa has said the stalemate has been resolved.
Little Kenya Gardens owner Cecilia Ruto said on Tuesday that the poison-Starlicide- that will be used for the efficacy test, will be shipped into the country next month.
“I have paid for the poison and we expect the shipment to be in the country by next month,” Ruto said.
She said she made the full payments in November last year but the company manufacturing the poison in New Zealand has to look for the materials.
Ruto said the Covid-19 pandemic had also slowed the process.
Controversy over the importation of the poison peaked last year after it emerged that only one company had a license to do so.
Following the controversy, Tourism CS Najib Balala had given Ruto six months to resolve issues curtailing the importation.
Ruto on Tuesday insisted that she had worked hard for years to get the license to import the poison as the product is not registered in Kenya.
She said the cost of one kg of the poison that has landed in the country is Sh550,000.
“It is a very expensive exercise. I have also had to maintain a skeleton staff and offices to avoid Pest Control Board from taking my license,” she added.
Ruto said she will be importing poison that is enough for the efficacy test.
She said when the Pest Control Board approves her drugs after the efficacy tests, they will be licensed.
“We are feeding the crow with bait that will be used for the efficacy test,” the boss said.
Ruto said the feeding exercise will continue until the poison arrives in the country.
The Indian House Crow is a scavenger that also feeds on germinating crops, young chicks, eggs and baby animals.
Earlier, Ruto had said there was a disruption in the eradication of crow after the role was transferred from the Tourism ministry to Environment.
Matters worsened after veterinary officials who worked on the project were suspended following the deaths of 10 black rhinos at Tsavo East National Park in 2018.
Little Kenya Gardens was awarded the monopoly to import Starlicide three years ago.
The crow is multiplying rapidly and causing serious economic damage at the Coast.
On September 22 last year, the Watamu Association wrote to the Environment PS Chris Kiptoo complaining that the slow-release poison Starlicide is not available in Kenya.
Starlicide metabolises rapidly over 10 to 12 hours and if a poisoned crow is found dead, it can be eaten safely by a scavenger such as a dog or a vulture.
Starlicide is the only measure that has proved effective in reducing Indian crow numbers.
Control measures over the last 20 years using trapping and carefully supervised poisoning with Starlicide reduced the house crow population in Zanzibar town by 95 per cent and over the whole island by 75-80 per cent.
“However, the problem at hand is that only one company, Little Kenya Gardens, has been given the sole rights to import and distribute Starlicide in Kenya,” the association wrote.
The Watamu Association said Little Kenya Gardens has not been active in the crow eradication programme yet it has refused to relinquish its monopoly, even to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
As a result, the international manufacturer of Starlicide cancelled the agency of Little Kenya Gardens in July for non-performance.
Ruto however said she is up to the task.
In January 2020, the KWS Board of Trustees approved a “well thought through plan for a National House Crow Eradication Strategy” and that “a comprehensive five-year National House Crow Eradication Programme” was completed in July 2020.
The KWS has an environmental social impact assessment licence for a trial of Starlicide in Kwale, Mombasa and Kilifi.
The Indian crow first arrived in Kenya in 1947 and has since multiplied to become a serious pest at the Coast.
The numbers had been reduced to less than 50 by 2005 but then the use of Starlicide was banned.
Now there are thousands at the Coast and the Indian House Crow has been sighted as far inland as Emali.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)