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Bird-breeding program to fight locust invasion

NORTHWEST China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is helping to breed millions of birds along the Sino-Kazakh border to protect farmlands from locusts hatching on the Kazakhstan side.

Xinjiang is building nests on the pasture along its border to attract starlings, a migratory bird that will feed on the insects, said Mu Chen of the Regional Locust and Rodent Control Headquarters.

Locust and rodent control staff have also fenced off the area to protect the birds.

Earlier this month, the regional government warned that the locusts would enter their adult stage before mid-July and fly across the border, threatening thousands of hectares of crops and pastures in northern Xinjiang.

Satellite observation showed that lakes on the Kazakhstan side along the border had shrunk by 58,000 hectares between 2007 and 2008. That would lead to an increase in wetlands, the ideal breeding ground for locusts, experts said.

Local governments are also encouraging farmers and herdsmen to raise more species of fowl to join the starlings in the fight against an invasion of locusts.

"We have trained technical staff and residents how to observe and prevent locusts. We also use aircraft and other equipment to prevent and kill locusts," Mu said.


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