China’s Misguided War Against Sparrows


These panel of images from the late 1950s China, depicting young boys hunting sparrows for sport, were taken from a poster aimed at school children. The poster was part of a large campaign to eradicate pests responsible for the transmission of pestilence and disease. Four pests were chosen for eradication—mosquitoes, rats, flies and sparrows. The last on this ‘kill list’ was deemed responsible for creating shortages in grains and fruits which the bird ate. The ill-conceived idea to tamper with the food chain caused a severe ecological imbalance, and along with other misguided policies the government put in place, it triggered a chain of destructive events that left some 50 million people dead in three years.

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