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  • Vijay Chandru

World Sparrow Day March 20 2022

World Sparrow Day (WSD) is celebrated every year on March 20th. This day is meant to raise awareness about the house sparrow and the dangers it confronts.

Also a good day to remember the great ecological folly of Chairman Mao who initiated the sparrow eradication program in the Spring of 1958. "Sparrows eat millions of tons of grain each year. Think of how many hungry people in other parts of the world, like workers in Taiwan and blacks in America, we can feed with the grain that sparrows steal from us each year." He went on to pronounce a strategy to kill the millions of sparrows in China. He mobilized the people to make make deafening noises such as gongs, clanging pots and pans, drums and firecrackers for days and nights on end till the sparrows unable to roost fell to the ground in exhaustion (remember how we got rid of Corona virus in the early days of the pandemic) and then we kill them. Of course a great many other birds were also killed in the process even though some children tried to speak to the other birds in Mandarin to tell them it was only the sparrows they were after. Over two thousand scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences joined the sparrow eradication program, led by Dr Zhen - the famous ornithologist. A year later, dreadful pests such as locusts ran rampant thanks to the death of their natural enemies, the sparrows included. A great famine followed and many millions died. No formal admission of error has been made, but some years later the Chinese Government quietly changed the definition of four pests from "sparrows, rats, flies and mosquitoes" to "Rats, Bedbugs, Flies and Mosquitoes".

- extracted from Sheldon Lou, "Sparrows, Begbugs, and Body Shadows: A Memoir." University of Hawii Press, 2016

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