This column is normally in favour of keeping birds alive, but just for a change, let’s celebrate killing them. The house crow has just been eradicated from the Socotra archipelago in Yemen — hurrah! No more crows; all gone, defunct, wiped out. Hurray for all those dead birds!
It’s all the fault of an officer of the Bombay Infantry who, for reasons best known to himself, decided to release a few house crows in Aden. Perhaps he liked them. Perhaps he just fancied being God. These crows are naturally found in southern Asia, but they have been spread by the hand of man. The Aden birds became hardened ship travellers, have hitched lifts all over the place, and thrived once they got there.
They reached Socotra in 1996, and started eating their way though the extraordinary creatures that have developed on the archipelago, and which are found nowhere else in the world. …
The house crow population reached ten pairs; enough to constitute a significant threat to the Socotra specials. Attempts to trap them consistently failed; crows are smart. So the Socotra Archipelago Conservation and Development Programme, backed by Birdlife International, came up with a brainwave: get the children to do it. They offered a reward to any child bringing in a crow’s nest full of young. It worked and the last few birds have just been shot.
And that’s just for 10 pair! Imagine then the urgency for places like, for instance, the power cable outside my bedroom window in a morning!