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Tanzania: five million birds killed to protect rice fields

Tanzania: five million birds killed to protect rice fields
Lesser flamingoes are pictured on September 30, 2011 at the Lake Natron at the foot of Ol Doinyo Lengai.   -  
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A total of five million Quelea Quelea, small red-billed birds, have been exterminated in Tanzania to protect rice fields, notably using drones, the national plant and pesticide monitoring agency said on Wednesday.

The Tanzanian Plant Protection and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA) killed five million birds last week in the Manyara region in the north of the country, where more than 400 hectares of commercial crops were under threat.

"We have killed five million destructive birds and are now monitoring other areas," Joseph Ndunguru, Director General of the TPHPA, told AFP.

Quelea Quelea, or Red-billed Workers, which travel in large flocks, have in the past wreaked havoc on crops in Africa, with invasions usually occurring at the start of the dry season in September and October.

Mr. Ndunguru said the agency had targeted the swarms with aerial spraying, including drones, over a four-day period, killing them before they damaged rice fields in northern Tanzania.

According to TPHPA, the birds are capable of destroying more than 50 tonnes of food crops in a single day.

In 2013, Uganda exterminated 1.8 million Quelea Quelea, also to protect rice fields, provoking the ire of environmentalists.

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