Nelly Bassily | May 4, 2009
Farmers across southern Africa are looking to the skies. It’s breeding season for quelea birds. These birds rove the continent, looking for food. They’re known as feathered locusts because they appear like a swarm and can quickly devour grain. They’re probably the last thing a farmer wants to see darkening the skies.Farmers in the Chiredzi District of southern Zimbabwe saw quelea descend last month. The birds ravaged millet and sorghum crops.
Ephraim Mazawi didn’t wait for them to attack his field. He harvested his crops early, before the quelea could get them.
Remote monitoring is used to track quelea movements in Southern Africa. The latest forecast shows quelea breeding in much of South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. The destructive birds are also breeding in Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
The following websites provide additional information on quelea movement in southern Africa:
-The SADC Quelea Breeding Forecast: http://www.sadc.int/fanr/aims/rrsu/quel/index.htm
-A report by The Cape Argus on the first appearance of quelea birds in South Africa’s Western Cape province: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=143&art_id=vn20090424125035781C270296
While this story focuses on quelea in southern Africa, the birds also cause problems for farmers in eastern and western Africa. The following are links to more general information on the birds:
-The Speaking Scarecrows, a Farm Radio International script that describes a method of deterring pest birds: http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-3script_en.asp
-The Wikipedia entry on red-billed quelea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-billed_Quelea