Conservationists hope using pesticides will limit the number of Quelea birds ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏɪɴɢ crops and ʜᴀʀᴍɪɴɢ other birds.
According to the Guardian, the Kenyan government’s decision to ᴇʀᴀᴅɪᴄᴀᴛᴇ up to 6 million Quelea birds is rampant in the fields, with the ʀɪsᴋ of unpredictable consequences for raptors and other wildlife.
Continuous drought in the Horn of Africa has reduced the amount of native grass – the primary food source of this bird. That led to them increasingly infiltrating the grain fields, causing the destruction of 800 hectares of rice. Quelea ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋᴇᴅ more than one million square meters of rice fields.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a single Quelea bird can eat up to 10 grams of grain per day. Thus, farmers in Western Kenya risk losing nearly 60 tons of grain.
Fenthion is an organophosphate insecticide used against pests in Africa. The researchers described the drug as “very ᴛᴏxɪᴄ to humans and other non-target animals.”
The widespread use of off-target species insecticides can cause pollution, says Paul Gacheru, wildlife and faunas manager at Nature Kenya, a local branch of BirdLife International environment and cause many other animals to ᴅɪᴇ.
With an estimated Quelea bird breeding population in Africa of 1.5 billion birds, ornithologists find that the number of birds of prey needs to be increased to cover the vast regions of Quelea birds and to handle the flocks effectively and environmentally friendly.
FAO and the United Nations Environment Program jointly developed the Rotterdam Convention to reduce the ʀɪsᴋ of ʜᴀᴢᴀʀᴅᴏᴜs chemicals in agriculture. They are working on including fenthion in Appendix III of the convention on the list of pesticides and industrial chemicals that are banned or severely restricted because of the environment or health.
“If controlled effectively, the amount of fenthion used can be reduced. At the same time, suitable breeding areas need to be detected by satellite imagery or by forecasting where birds are likely to breed,” the report said to write.
Quelea ɪɴᴠᴀsɪᴏɴs frequently occur in many African countries. Six months ago, FAO granted USD500,000 to the Tanzanian government to support pesticide spraying, monitoring, and capacity building, after 21 million Quelea birds destroyed rice, sorghum, millet, and wheat fields.
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