Statement on the ongoing killing of 5.8 million quelea birds in Kisumu following the rice farm invasion

According to the January 12 2023 issue of Business Daily magazine, the Kenyan government has begun an aerial bird control operation to eradicate the destructive quelea birds that have invaded rice farms in Kisumu County. The Ministry of Agriculture's initiative aims to eradicate 5.8 million birds in nine different locations where the birds hide at night. While the operation has begun, we at The Polly Foundation and Extinction Rebellion Kenya are urging the Ministry of Agriculture to cease and desist from using aerial pesticide spraying to control Quelea birds since the bird species is rare and should be protected. Aerial spraying, we believe, destroys the environment and habitat of other birds and animals. Furthermore, chemicals will have an impact on the wetland ecosystem. As a result, we are joining other environmental groups in urging the government to use mechanical control of the birds, as well as other alternatives such as monitoring their breeding and migratory patterns, erecting scarecrows, and hiring bird chasers to protect the farms.

Farm workers on the rice field without protective equipments

Biodiversity is one complete factor that indicates habitat completeness, which can solve the world's current ecological imbalance. Depletion of one member of an ecosystem causes ecosystem imbalance, in which one species (a member of the ecosystem) becomes over dominant while other species struggle to survive within the ecosystem, resulting in further depletion of other members of the ecosystem (species). Given the preceding scenario, the food chain/energy flow within such an ecosystem is disrupted, rendering it unfit for the survival of its members. The member species then respond by developing mechanisms to help them survive the damage, such as migrating to other suitable ecosystems, which has its own implications.

The situation in Nyando (Ahero) rice plantation is a practical/real-life version of the scenario described above. The government's chemical response to the situation is a blatant violation of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires contracting parties to be Conscious of the intrinsic value of biological diversity as well as the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic values of biological diversity and its components. And Conscious also on the importance of biological diversity for evolution and the maintenance of life-sustaining systems in the biosphere, Affirming that the conservation of biological diversity is a shared concern of humanity,
Reaffirming that states are responsible for conserving biological diversity and using biological resources in a sustainable manner, Concerned that certain human activities are significantly reducing biological diversity,
Noting that it is critical to anticipate, prevent, and address the causes of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity at the source,

Determined to conserve and use biological diversity in a sustainable manner for the benefit of current and future generations. Kenya being a Contracting party to the UN’s CBD, the actions of the government on Ahero rice fields are clearly out of the binding Conscious, Affirmation, Concern, Notations and Determinations of the UN’s CBD by directly violating chapters 7(c), 8 and 9 of The United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity.

When deciding on the best technique to use in controlling bird invasion on rice plantations in Ahero, environmentally friendly and ecosystem conserving measures should be taken into account. Considering the issue as a pure economic setback without considering Ecosystem and Ecological factors is selfish and completely disregard for Ecological consciousness. Controlling the situation with chemicals will have serious consequences for farm soil biodiversity. Increased pollution and contamination of the Nyando River and, eventually, Lake Victoria, endangering aquatic life in the two large bodies of water nearby. Thousands of rice workers who normally work on rice plantations without protective equipment will be vulnerable to the dangers of chemical contact and contamination.

Birds on the rice field

Nonetheless, instead of using techniques that grossly devastate and endanger almost all members of an ecosystem, the government should work to develop long-term sustainable innovations that are environmentally conscious and conserve the ecosystem.


Join us to raise awareness on this issue by tweeting and tagging The Polly Foundation (@PollyFoundation) and Extinction Rebellion Kenya (@xr_kenya) beginning February 2nd, 2023 (World Wetlands Day) under the hashtag #FaceOutEcosystemImbalance

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