Wiping Sparrows Resulted in 20 Million Dead People in China

By Anupum Pant


Starting from the year 1958, Mao Zedong wanted to rapidly transform the People’s Republic of China from an agrarian economy to a communist society through rapid industrialization. So, he introduced a huge economic and social campaign which aimed to make this transformation possible. It was called the Giant Leap Forward. However, the campaign ended in a massive catastrophe which resulted in the death of about 10 Million people (estimates range from 18 to 45 Million deaths). Mostly because Mao decided to mess with mother nature and created a serious ecological imbalance.

One integral part of the campaign was called the four pests campaign. The aim of this campaign was to exterminate four kinds of pests identified by Mao Zedong which would have, according to him, fixed their poor grain output in China. The identified pests were – Mosquitoes, Flies, Rats and Sparrows.

The Great Sparrow Campaign

Of all, Sparrows were considered as pests because the bird species was responsible for pecking on the grains produced by hard-working peasants. That was completely unacceptable to them. The Chinese solution – Kill all birds.

This part of the four pests campaign was known as the Great sparrow campaign. To wipe off all the sparrows, masses across the country were mobilized. Some shot birds from the sky. Others just banged metal plates when they saw sparrows. Sparrows were not allowed to rest. As a result, flying sparrows fell down out of exhaustion. There were incentives according to the volume of pests people got rid of. It was brutal.

The Ecological Imbalance

The extermination of “pests” was expected to bring about a better output in grains, but it resulted in something totally opposite. Moreover, the results of this campaign were totally devastating.

As all the sparrows were being killed, there was a serious ecological imbalance. Now, there were no sparrows left to eat the quickly multiplying insects. It resulted in the rise of real pests (insects) like swarms of locusts etc. Instead of seeing a rise in the grain yeild, China saw a drastically decreased yeild.

The Great sparrow campaign ended up being  a major factor that contributed towards the Great Chinese famine in which about 20 Million people died out of starvation.

Moral: You don’t mess with mother nature.

There Is No Lake Like The Taal Lake

By Anupum Pant

Geologically this is quite a phenomenon and might get a bit confusing to grasp if you stop paying enough attention. Here we go…

Island in a lake on an island in a lake…

Taal lake is a freshwater lake on the Luzon island of Philippines. Almost at the center of this lake, is an island called the volcano island. At the center of this island is another lake called the main crater lake. And in this lake is a small landmass called the Vulcan point. [map]

Now take a deep breath…in short, it is, Luzon island > Taal lake > Volcano island > Main crater lake > Vulcan Point.

The main crater lake: Even though the crater lake isn’t a very big lake, it is still claimed as the  world’s largest lake on an island (Volcano Island) in a lake (Taal Lake) on an island (Luzon). Of course it is, where else in the whole world would you find a lake on an island in a lake on an island?

Vulcan point: On this world’s largest lake on an island in a lake on an island, is a tiny land mass called the Vulcan Point which is the world’s largest volcano in a lake (Main Crater Lake) on a volcano (Taal Volcano). It isn’t even big enough to support a small house.

Home to Unique Species

But all that is just a part of what is interesting about the Taal lake. Ecologically it is another marvel in a way that it is home to a few species of animals that are found nowhere else on earth. In this lake you’ll find the only varieties of fresh water sardines, sharks and sea snakes.

Reason: This lake was not a lake several thousands of years back. Then, due to volcanic eruptions, it got separated from the sea. Now the only thing that connected this water mass and the sea was Pansipit river. Gradually, several hundreds of years of precipitation converted this lake from a saltwater lake to a freshwater lake. For centuries, animals living here have remained isolated and have evolved into unique species to adapt to this desalination.