Great Sparrow campaign aftermath

This disaster against the sparrows was finally terminated in 1959 when the Academy of Sciences leaders brought up the opinions of scientists about the issue. The scientists had autopsied the digestive systems of the sparrows and found that three-quarters of the contents were harmful insects and only one quarter was human food.

The scientific findings showed that sparrows were basically a beneficial bird for humans. By April 1960, Chinese leaders realized that sparrows ate a large amount of insects. Rather than being increased, rice yields after the campaign were substantially decreased.

Chairman Mao ordered the end of the campaign against sparrows, replacing them with bedbugs in the ongoing campaign against the Four Pests. However, it was already too late. With no sparrows to eat the locust populations, the country was soon swarmed.

Due to poor economy and bad crop people suffered malnutrition and died as consequence. The ecological problems created by the Great Leap Forward campaign were widespread deforestation and misuse of poisons and pesticides. During the crisis an estimated two billion sparrows throughout the China had fallen. The Great Sparrow disaster is a perfect example how individually harmless choices can often collectively destructive, especially when the decision are brought at national level. There is a consequence for every decision we make and nature spares no one.

China was soon in the middle of the world's largest famine between the spring of 1959 and the end of 1961. The inevitable results of the famine were land shortages, famine, and an increasingly impoverished rural population. Heavy taxes together with inflation and greedy local officials additionaly worsened the national crisis. Estimates show that over 30 million Chinese starved to death and about the same number of births were lost or postponed.

Next: Great Sparrow campaign documentary