The Birds II

This story reminds one of the Hollywood blockbuster of the 1960s that changed the way many people looked at birds. Gigantic flocks of the quela quela (Quelea quelea) bird have attacked rice and maize fields in Nigeria's northern states of Zamfara and Yobe, bordering Niger on the south of the arid Sahel semi-desert area, which is facing a severe food shortage. Agriculture in northern Nigeria has already been hard-hit by recent drought and locusts attack.

"There is actually an outbreak of quela birds in Bakura, Maradun and Mafara districts which has destroyed most rice fields that were almost ripe for harvest,' said Zamfara information commissioner Mohammad Aliyu Moriki on July 27, 2005.

Moriki said Nigeria's federal government was conducting spraying of pesticides but had so far been unable to check the birds. "Our fear is that if the pests are not controlled at this stage, they will do more damage by spreading and destroying other crops due for harvest in two months.' The quela quela, also known as red-billed quelea, can travel in million-strong flocks and constitute a massive threat to crops.