Mechanised equipment deployed in quelea bird control

By Tapiwa Machemedze

MIGRATORY quelea birds are a menace to traditional grain farming in Zimbabwe and its Southern Africa neighbours, with the Ministry of agriculture through the Plant Protection Unit adopting modern pest control technologies to curb the predatory birds.

Significant investment has been made by the Plant Protection Unit in the Ministry of Lands Agriculture Fisheries Water and Rural Resettlement to counter loses in traditional grains and wheat worth thousands of dollars which are being incurred by local farmers’ yearly.  

ZBC News caught up with the team using motorised backpack sprayers to fight the quelea birds.

Shingirayi Nyamutukwa of the Plant Protection Unit walks us through the spraying process normally conducted at dusk just before the predatory birds return home to roost.

“As you can see these men are now spraying the birds. They require protective clothing and they are highly trained. It’s not just anyone who should be doing this. We have our team of sprayers, so when the birds come back they will suffocate from the pesticide. We spray the birds at their roosting palaces,” said Nyamutukwa.

The migratory birds breed and roost in Zimbabwe, but also migrate from areas like Pandametenga and Kahwange to neighbouring Botswana, resulting in the two countries collaborating in eradicating the animals.

The predatory birds can eat as much as 4 grammes of traditional grains or wheat per day per bird, translating to huge loses for farmers in Zimbabwe’s dry areas such as the Northern Zambezi Valley or the Lowveld as the birds move in flocks of more than a thousand.