Tanzania has carried out a substantial effort to safeguard its rice fields from the threat posed by millions of quelea birds. The Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA), responsible for managing desert locusts as well, took action in the northern region of Manyara last week, where approximately 1,000 acres of commercial crops were at risk.
Joseph Ndunguru, the acting director general of TPHPA, explained that they eliminated swarms of five million destructive quelea birds and are now actively monitoring other areas. These small birds, recognized by their red beaks, often travel in large groups and are notorious for causing damage to crops, typically during the dry season in September and October.
To protect the paddy fields in northern Tanzania, the agency conducted aerial spraying over a four-day period, successfully eliminating the threat. Aerial surveillance is currently ongoing in various regions as a precautionary measure.
The TPHPA reports that these birds are capable of consuming more than 50 tonnes of food crops in a single day. Quelea birds are believed to be the most abundant bird species globally, leading various African governments to implement both aerial and ground strategies in the past to manage their populations.