The Story of China’s Self Inflicted Disaster

History is filled with environmental disasters. Well, the Kill A Sparrow or the Four Pests Campaign is China’s self-inflicted disaster. The four pests to be eliminated were the following – 1. Sparrow 2. Rats 3. Flies 4. Mosquitoes. The Eurasian tree sparrow was the most notable target of the campaign. This is why the campaign is sometimes referred to as the Kill A Sparrow Campaign as well.


Eurasian Tree Sparrow

The Eurasian tree sparrow is a sparrow that breeds over most of the temperate Eurasia and Southeast Asia where it’s known as the tree sparrow. It has also been introduced in the United States where it is known as the German Sparrow or Eurasian Tree Sparrow. The sparrow is widespread in the towns and cities of eastern Asia. In Europe, however, it is a bird of lightly wooded open countryside.


The sparrow’s extensive range and large population ensure that it is not endangered globally. As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, its conservation status as a species is of least concern. In the region of Eastern Asia and Western Australia, this species is sometimes viewed as a pest, although it is also widely celebrated in oriental art.

Read Also: The Titanic Never Really Sank -This Conspiracy Theory Proves Otherwise

Kill A Sparrow Campaign

This campaign was introduced in 1958 by Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, as a hygiene campaign. The aim was to eradicate pests that were responsible for transmission of pestilence and disease. Mosquitoes were responsible for malaria. Rodents spread the plague, and the sparrows ate grain seed and fruit. The impact of this ill-conceived decision was huge, along with the many other policies he put in place resulting in a domino effect of destruction. 


During this campaign, millions of sparrows were killed. They died out of exhaustion; citizens would band pots and pans so that they would not rest on tree branches and fall dead from the sky. Sparrow nests were destroyed, eggs broken and chicks killed. Some people also asserted to shooting down the birds from the sky. In fact, incorporeal rewards were awarded to those who handed in the largest number of rat tails, dead flies, mosquitoes, and dead sparrows. As a result of these attacks, the sparrow population was soon on the brink of extinction.


Some sparrows found refuge in extraterritorial premises of various diplomatic missions in China. It is most noteworthy that the personnel of the Polish embassy in Beijing denied the Chinese the request of entering the premises to scare away the sparrows. As a result, people with drums surrounded. After two days of constant drumming sound, the Poles used shovels to clear the embassy of dead sparrows.

Read Also: Why Do People Cover Their Head During Worship? Know the Reasons.

Leave The Sparrows, Kill the Bedbugs

By April of 1960, the Chinese leaders concluded that sparrows ate a lot of insects as well as grains. In fact, it was found that the rice yields had substantially decreased after the campaign. Why? Bed bugs. Consequently, Mao ordered the end of the Sparrow Campaign, replacing sparrows with beg bugs.


But by this time, it was far too late. With no sparrows to eat them, locust populations shot up, consuming crops meant for humans. This exacerbated the ecological problems caused by the Great Leap Forward. It got to the point where the Chinese government had to import sparrows from the Soviet Union. This ecological imbalance was also a significant contributor to the Great Chinese Famine in which 20-45 million people died of starvation.

Read Also: Know About The Man Who Survived Two Nuclear Bomb Attacks

Image Source

Follow us



Know About This Inhabited Wettest Place In The World

“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener.” As the saying goes, a little rain makes everything more soothing and beautiful. Do you...
recipes with coffee

These 3 Recipes With Coffee Are The Best Winter Delicacies! Try Them!

Coffee in winters is a delight we all enjoy whole-heartedly. That aroma of perfect coffee beans brewed into you favorite mug is unforgettable but...

Know Why Airplanes Leave Trails Behind Them In The Sky

Airplanes leave trails in the clear blue skies, never miss out to catch our eyes. It's easy to trace the straight lines diminishing after...
What Methods Should I Use To Clean My Hat?

What Methods Should I Use To Clean My Hat?

One of the most common questions asked by many hat owners is how can I properly wash my hats? The answer to that often...

Welcome to Mawlynnong – The Cleanest Village in Asia!

Among you and all the people reading this article, the probability is high that the highest proportion would be from urban areas. And if...

Recent post

Air Detoxing Houseplants

Air Detoxing Houseplants To The Rescue – Part I

Today, people tend to spend more than 90% of their time indoors. Hence the air quality in the house is significant. Modern buildings and furnishings...
The Mystery Behind The Crooked Forest - 4 Proposed Explanations

The Mystery Behind The Crooked Forest – 4 Proposed Explanations

How should an ordinary pine forest full of pine trees look like? Of course, by the laws of nature, they shouldn't be crooked and...
Bound Feet

What Do You Know About The Bound Feet?

What Do You Know About The Bound Feet?   History Nobody really knows the exact period when it all began in China. Though famously it is believed...

Do You Know About This Navy Ship Made Of Steel From The Twin Towers?

The Historic Navy Ship On 7th November 2009, the World Trade Center commissioned into the U.S. Navy. The USS New York is perhaps the most popular...

Unique Destinations and their Unique Ways of Celebrating Holi!

As this vibrant festival of colors approaches, it becomes paramount to share a few thoughts, or rather facts about it. We seldom get curious...

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.