Tanzania culls millions of Red-billed Quelea


Tanzania has culled millions of Red-billed Quelea to prevent them from foraging – and thus decimating – rice crops.

The Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA), which is also responsible for controlling Desert Locusts, killed 5 million queleas in the northern region of Manyara in one week in late September where some 400 ha of commercial crops were said to be under threat.

Red-billed Quelea is among the most numerous bird species in the world, with governments across Africa initiating efforts to contain the species in the past (David Johnston).

"We killed swarms of 5 million destructive birds and now we are monitoring other zones," Joseph Ndunguru, acting director general of TPHPA, told AFP. Drones and plans were used by the TPHPA.

Ndunguru said the agency targeted the swarms with aerial spraying over a four-day period, killing them before they damaged the paddy fields in northern Tanzania. Aerial surveillance is now under way in other regions, he added.

Earlier this year, there were concerns that a drive by the Kenyan government to kill up to 6 million Red-billed Quelea with pesticide could impact endangered raptors.