Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Farmers fear invasion of the pipit

Wednesday March 3, 2010

KENINGAU: Farmers in this Sabah interior district are bracing for an invasion of birds – the padi field pipit (Anthus rufulus).

They fear losing half of their crop due to be harvested in about a week.

The pipit are known to be voracious birds and usually make their appearance in the afternoon.

“I just feel so helpless when these little birds swoop down on my padi crop,” said farmer Alexius Pitan, 52, as he watched over his 1.2ha field at Kampung Sook Station, some 200km from Kota Kinabalu.

He said the birds appeared to be undeterred by the scarecrows he had fashioned from sticks and dried grass.

Alexius and dozens of other padi farmers have begun fashioning scarecrows from their families’ clothing – including tee-shirts and shorts – as well as putting up plastic bags and cardboard pieces.

“We are doing everything to drive away the birds. Hopefully about 60% of my padi crop will survive,” he added.

Alexius said he noticed an increasing number of the birds in his fields with more forests around Keningau being cleared in recent years for oil palm plantations.

“I am not sure if the land clearing has anything to do with the presence of these birds, but all I know is that they are eating up so much of my hard work,” he sighed.

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