China Readying Army Of 100,000 Ducks To Battle Plague Of Locusts

China’s army to combat the locust outbreak in Pakistan will fit the bill: at least 100,000 ducks are being deployed to have a quack at fighting the plague.

Officials say the crop-munching desert locusts are a threat to the China’s regional food security, and so the prevention of a locust invasion from neighbouring Pakistan is of the utmost importance.

The pest situation is so severe in Pakistan that an emergency was declared earlier this month, with locust numbers at their highest in more than two decades – millions of the insects have also been decimating crops in India and East Africa. Fortunately, China has a plan: fowl play.

According to Lu Lizhi, a senior researcher with the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the 100,000-strong waterfowl army will be rolled into Pakistan as early as the second half of this year, as per Bloomberg.

Lu – who’s in charge of the project alongside a university across the border – says the ducks are ‘biological weapons’, with a single duck having the capacity to eat 200 locusts a day and be more effective than pesticides.

Chickens, in comparison, can only eat 70 locusts a day. ‘Ducks like to stay in a group so they are easier to manage than chickens,’ Lu said, as per the BBC. The plans come as experts were sent to Pakistan to assess the situation and develop ‘targeted programmes’ against the outbreak.

The army won’t be sent straight away, however – a trial involving the ducks is set to take place in China’s western Xinjiang province in the coming months, Lu added. Granting that the trial is a success, they will be sent to the worst-affected areas across Pakistan, such as Sindh, Bolochistan and Punjab provinces.

There are currently no plans to roll out the army to Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, all of which are battling ‘unprecedented’ and ‘devastating’ swarms of the insects, according to the UN (the current cost of fighting locusts in the continent has ballooned to a whopping $128 million).

This isn’t the first time the ducks have been employed by the country: back in 2000, a smaller 30,000-strong army was amassed and deployed to Xinjiang to tackle a past infestation of locusts.

The current infestations can reportedly be traced back to a spate of cyclones back in 2018-2019, which allowed ‘at least three generations of unprecedented breeding’ across the Arabian Peninsula.

However, there are solutions beyond the ducks – for example, local Pakistan newspaper reports are suggesting locals take advantage of the swarms and barbecue them, or even make a curry.

Source: Unilad

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