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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Innovative approaches in the control of quelea, Quelea quelea lathimii, in Zimbabwe


Ever since crops have been grown, quelea have been a threat to summer subsistence crops and winter commercial wheat/barley cropping in Zimbabwe. Control techniques spraying toxicant Queletox through ground spray units and aircraft, developed in Zimbabwe, have produced 90% kills keeping the level of depredation down to acceptable levels. Zimbabwe, like most developing countries, faces protein shortages, and utilization of dead quelea by the rural population has always occurred even from sprayed colonies despite repeated warnings of possible side effects. Traditionally quelea have been sold on the black market for 10-20 Zimbabwe cents/bird and recently a far wider potential, even export, has been realized with a potential value increased to 40 cents/bird. Several applications for permits to harvest large numbers have been processed by the Department for export and local consumption provided a suitable method of capturing large numbers could be perfected. The recognition of quelea as a potentially economic renewable resource has intensified research in this area and several mechanical systems have been tried over the years finally culminating in the promising development of the "Impact" trap. The method potentially provides large numbers of uncontaminated quelea for the market. With careful monitoring and the parallel development of the trap roost concept, it is possible this approach could also sufficiently reduce toxic control beneficial to the environment as a whole while providing a source of food and revenue to Zimbabwe.

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