Move Over, Starling

07 Aug 2007

According to the Xinhua news agency, China has come up with a novel way of catching locusts, plagues of which destroy more than 3 million hectares of pasture every year.

The far western region of Xinjiang is raising starlings in artificial nests to create an ‘air force’ to combat the plagues, it says.

Quoting Li Jun, a local locust-control expert, it reports that ‘Damage to pasture would fall by 70 percent if the squadrons were formed, saving 30 million yuan.

This year freak floods, lightning, landslides, drought and heatwaves have provoked a wave of animal scourges. In Xinjiang, trained wolves, eagles and foxes were deployed this spring to check an outbreak of marauding rats.

This is the first time that China has adopted unorthodox methods of pest control. Already during the ‘Great Leap Forward’ in the 1950s, Mao Zedong launched a ‘Four Pests’ control campaign in which citizens were trained to kill flies, mosquitoes, rats and sparrows.

Xinhua News Agency

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