While we acknowledge that a balance between wildlife and human needs must be balanced in a sustainable way. Watching the effect thousands of pigeons have on Bolivian agricultural sector, we need to reflect.
The article below and TV news say those migrating birds come to Bolivia because there is food and water for them. They remain on the forest lines left between the crops, so it acts as wind deterrents that otherwise would take away the fragile soil and cause erosion. Many agriculturalists didn’t leave those forest “curtains” and now it would appear that the solution to protect the soil may also house these birds. So, there is no simple solution, I just wanted to reflect on the need to support our agricultural sector, vis-a-vis our food security with that of protecting wildlife.
Fernando Rojas writes from El Pailon for El Deber:
Totaquis damage the crops of sorghum and sunflower in Pailon
Thousands and thousands of pigeons (totaquies) and on a small scale, Parrots put producers in distress and damage crops of wheat and sorghum in agricultural parcels of private, Mennonite settlers who are concentrated in the Pailón municipality, to the East of the region.
“The invasion of totaquies is really uncontrollable, what most worries and despair is to see how are ravaging the sunflower kernels.” They came to this area three weeks ago and the impact on the decrease of the production is notable. “Began the harvest with an average of 1.2 tons per hectare and now dropped to 800 kg”, spoke Nicolas Elizalde, administrator of San Francisco, in Pozo del Tigre, agricultural site, 140 kilometers east of Santa Cruz capital.
The farmer estimated that of the 500 Sunflower hectares, 40% already was already devoured by the totaquies.
Ha said, the authorities working for biodiversity and environment should implement a public policy that encourages controlled and responsible hunting for the totaqui in this area; otherwise there is the risk that producers will disappear because nobody will invest to lose.
In the agricultural farm Floraí, also located in the same area, the birds attack to the cultivation of sunflower is impressive, to the point that the property staff had to open paths on sown boards to mobilize heavy machinery and thus scare off thousands and thousands of birds.
They also implemented a mobile service that has an air compressor that is connected to a horn to produce a shrill sound. The use of firecrackers is another method used. This plan was activated three weeks ago and they apply from 6: 00 to 15: 00. They spend a budget of Bs 2,380 to fuel the machinery and firecrackers.
On a tour of Tres Cruces and the Mennonite colonies Belize, Neuland, La Milagrosa, Manitoba and other scattered throughout the Pailón municipality, it was verified the attack and impact of totaquies are notable in the production of sorghum and sunflower. Birds literally ‘swept’ with sorghum crops. There are Mennonites agricultural plots which have lost more than 50% of their crops and in extreme cases everything.
“Not even by allowing hunters entrance, has reduced the animals.” “Another factor that turned the alarm is that before, the birds migrated to this area to feed on sorghum, now they are also a threat to corn, sunflower, sesame, soy and other grains”, noted a Mennonite from Belize, who preferred anonymity.
According to the technician responsible for this area, Juan Carlos Coaquira, from the Association of producers of oil and wheat (Anapo) there is an attack without mercy on rotation crops such as sunflower and sorghum. “We have seen sunflower buds that have a 40 and up to 60% loss of seeds and, in the case of sorghum, pins without any grains,” said, noting that there are about 40,000 hectares of sunflower in the Pailón municipality – the most affected – and some 30,000 hectares of sorghum at risk.
A Colombian expert, preferred not to be identified, said in his 13 years studying the population of totaquies, estimated the population of birds in Tres Cruces, El Tinto, Tunas and Pozo del Tigre grew from 22 to more than 30 million in the last year.
Sport hunting in the area is activated
Tourists and hunters sports fans unleashed a rampant ‘war’ against the totaquies and leave a social effect.
On farms where the hunting of birds is permitted and there is ‘dormideros’ [portion of the forest which houses the birds at night], those who benefit most are children and adolescents from different communities that earn a living picking and peeling the totaquies hunters exterminated. None of the numerous army of collectors dared to mention how much they earn for the compliment, while recognizing their income obtained, helps their families.
In the other lane are the entrepreneurs who bring tourists at this time to help control the migration of birds through sport hunting.
A tourism agent, in Tres Cruces noted that foreigners are pleased to participate in sport hunting. According to him, foreigners leave a utility that is priceless because the birds that are used on the day of hunting are destined for hospitals, children’s centres, shelters and other public institutions at Tres Cruces and the capital.
“All the totaquies that are hunted, are donated and not sold to anyone,” he said.
The arrival of tourists should be promoted
Moises Tapia | Biologist
The experience leads me to say with certainty that the population of totaquies in the area is growing and that this factor represents a threat to farmers because as the agricultural frontier expand, on the same trend it is assumed the totaqui will also grow because they will have more availability of food. This last factor is precisely that is motivating the multiplication of pigeons.
It is difficult to give a recipe to combat the plague, but I think that should be promoted the arrival of tourists (as in Argentina) so that through sport hunting is controlled and reduce the population.
It should never be considered to use any type of poison to counter the plague because that action could lead to negative effects on animal biodiversity which feeds on the bird.
70,000 Hectares: It is the surface of sorghum and sunflower crops that are at risk of being lost
40% decline: Thus are, according to an expert of Anapo, sunflower blossoms to remain without seeds