People face starvation as Quelea birds destroy crops

quela_birds.jpgA flock of Quelea birds in Hwange National Park.

BULAWAYO - Hopes of an end to yearly food shortages in Matabeleland North are fast fading as millions of Quelea birds have invaded the province, wiping out crops and destroying the trees where they p

Njabuliso Mguni, the MDC Mutambara House of Assembly member for Lupane,
told The Zimbabwean that the birds are feeding on the maize crops,
which are almost ready for harvest and said the situation was so bad
that government intervention was needed to control the birds.

Villagers are facing hunger because the Quelea birds have almost wiped
out the entire crops. Long ago, there used to be helicopters to scare
away the birds but that is no longer being done and the creatures have
become difficult to control, said Mguni.

Quelea birds travel in huge flocks, and in years when rainfall is good
and cereal crops do well, they are voracious pests, decimating entire
fields of crops.

Gabriel Ndebele, the MP for Matobo said:

Food aid will be needed again in Matobo because the villagers who were
expecting good harvest because of the rains have lost out to the birds.

This comes as herds of elephants are wrecking havoc in Matabeleland province where they have been harvesting crops.

Reports say there are over 100 000 elephants at the Hwange National
Park against its carrying capacity of 14 000. However, the elephants
cannot be culled because the 1989 Convention of International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) prohibits African countries from killing
elephants or exporting ivory.


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