Beginning in 1958, in an effort to increase food resources for his people, chairman Mao ordered Chinese citizens to attack sparrow populations by killing and frightening away birds, and destroying nests, because the sparrows were feeding on grain and affecting crop harvest. The politically-motivated campaign was a success but unfortunately the designers failed to understand nature and miscalculated the ecological significance of the bird. In an attempt to secure food supplies, the Chinese people virtually eliminated the predator of the locust, which resulted in devastating locust swarms, exacerbating the Great Chinese Famine wherein 36 million people starved to death.

Citation: The Wonder of Birds by Jim Robbins

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