How Sparrow Fighting Fueled 30 Million Deaths from Starvation

Mao Zedong is a pretty famous person that everyone has heard of. Follower of communism and ruler of China, who proclaimed the People's Republic of China. After Stalin's death in 1953, he turned out to be the most prominent of the Marxist leaders.

It would seem that we know a lot from the biography of the "Great Leader" of China. However, few people know that this person started a campaign that resulted in about 30 million people starving to death. Mao Zedong, after 9 years in power, decided to implement reforms in agriculture and industry in order to "keep up" with the West.

In 1958, the leader of China announced the beginning of a "war" aimed at exterminating the black-listed sparrows, along with rats, flies and mosquitoes. If the last three "candidates" are not surprising, then the decision to destroy the sparrows is astonishing.

Why sparrows? Here's the thing: a preliminary study was conducted, the results of which showed that 10 sparrows eat about 45 kg of grain during the year. Scientists have also calculated that for every million sparrows killed, as much grain will be saved as would have been enough to feed 60, 000 people.

Having received this information, Mao Zedong announced the beginning of the war, which was later called the Great Sparrow War. He urged every inhabitant to fight the sparrows in order to secure a "bright future" for themselves. Thus, only during December 13, 1958, 194, 432 "enemies" were destroyed.

And throughout the campaign, about a billion birds were exterminated, and, as a result, this species practically disappeared in the People's Republic of China. However, the ruler of China did not take into account one curious fact: sparrows are enemies of insects, including locusts, which, as you know, cause tremendous damage to the crop.

Thus, the extermination of almost all sparrows gave freedom of action to the locust, which destroyed a huge amount of the crop. Later, Mao Zedong realized that his decision led to a violation of the harmony in the ecosystem. About 30 million people died of hunger.

He gave the order to import sparrows from the Soviet Union, but this did not help, since it takes time to adapt and spread. As a result, a period began, which scientists call the Great Chinese Famine (1958-1961), during which about 30 million people starved to death.