BBC nature programme features Greenwich professor

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By poppy_smith | Thursday, January 03, 2013, 07:24

Professor Bob Cheke from the University of Greenwich appeared on the new BBC Two series Nature's Weirdest Events last night (Wednesday 2 January).

The programme unpicked the science behind strange events in the natural world. Bob, Professor of Tropical Zoology at Greenwich, advised on the threat posed to crops in Africa by huge swarms of the quelea bird.

Queleas, the world's most numerous terrestrial birds, have a population of over one billion. Normally feeding on wild grasses, when hungry they can form enormous flocks of up to two million that turn on local crops, destroying up to 50 tons of grain per day and causing billions of pounds worth of damage.

Bob says: "Quelea swarms are one of nature's wonders of the world. They have a cohesion and beauty, as they weave patterns in the sky, tempered by the awesome threat that they can pose in sub-Saharan Africa." 

Bob's teams of researchers at the Natural Resources Institute have been working to find environmentally safe techniques of controlling the quelea and reducing their impact on farmers. Such techniques include trapping the small birds in traditional nets and baskets, with the advantage of providing income generation and much-needed protein for hungry populations.

Bob has advised the BBC for Planet Earth, the award-winning David Attenborough series, and for the new Attenborough series Africa, which also starts tonight (BBC One, 9pm). Bob provided advice on where and when to film a sequence on armoured bush crickets.

He also assisted in filming the BBC's Swarm: Nature's incredible invasions, which was shown in 2009. 

For more details on Nature's Weirdest Events



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