Up to 2 million pest birds destroyed over Uganda’s rice fields


(Posted 25th July 2014)

(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)


Up to 2 million Quelea birds were destroyed in recent days over Uganda’s largest rice growing estate in the East of the country, following howls of outrage by local farmers who faced a total loss of their food crops.

Last week did the same swarms of birds clean out over 1.000 acres of sorghum in Eastern Uganda before moving on to the rice fields of Tilda Ltd, where they then faced an aerial assault by agricultural crop spray aircraft aimed to save an entire harvest from being destroyed.

An emergency task force from the Ministry of Agriculture, assisted by the Desert Locust Control Organization of East Africa had earlier been formed and acted with due haste to put measures in place to destroy the swarms.

Locusts, but also Quelea birds, are the local farmers’ most feared invaders and in the case of this particular swarm farmers were counting losses of hundreds of millions of shillings already as tons of nearly mature grain ended up in the stomachs of birds instead of being processed as food for Uganda’s population.

There have been some isolated complaints from local ornithologists over the massive eradication of the birds but as they are considered pests their destruction did not violate any protection laws. A local ‘birder’ sent in his comment as follows: ‘Those birds are really pests and of little value because they eat crops instead of insects. But our worry is that other birds, even rare birds, also nest near those farms. For sure many of them were also killed because the spray does not make a difference between pest birds and useful birds. For that reason there have been complaints. We are not opposing spraying as such but just point out what the military types call ‘collateral damage’ to other bird populations. Those losses we regret a lot’.

It is understood that this is the first major such operation over the 30+ hectare rice fields of the Tilda estate in about a decade, taken as a rare measure since all other forms of bird control failed, and only in view of the extremely large number of birds this year descending on Uganda’s rice fields and other farms. Watch this space.

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