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Poisoned birds

Red kites struck down by banned pesticide

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In canton Geneva, red kites are being poisoned by a pesticide that was banned years ago. The Swiss have been trying hard to protect the birds. (RTS/swissinfo.ch)

Carbofuran is a chemical used against pests that attack corn, turnips, onions and mushrooms. It was withdrawn in Switzerland in 2011 and the deadline for farmers to stop using it was in 2013.

But at the centre for bird rehabilitation in Genthod, several red kites have been brought in that were almost killed by the poison. Officials at the centre believe that it is still being used illegally by farmers in the vicinity.

Over the last few decades, efforts to protect the species in Switzerland have been successful. Numbers began to increase, while in many other parts of Europe they were declining. The red kite, the third largest bird species in Switzerland, is protected under EU guidelines and federal laws.

Apart from the risk of being poisoned, it is threatened by loss of habitat, wind generators, power lines, hunting, disturbances to nesting sites through tourism and forestry work.