Desert Locust: FAO urges increased vigilance
Intensive survey operations needed in West Africa and Sudan
24 June 2005, Rome - Survey operations should be intensified in Sudan and neighbouring Eritrea as several swarms have moved east across Sudan from Darfur towards the Gedaref area and the border with Eritrea in mid-June, according to the latest FAO Desert Locust update.
In early June, a few swarms originating from the so-called Southern Circuit in Guinea moved across West Africa, eventually reaching western Darfur, where they quickly matured. Some swarms laid eggs in western and northern Darfur while others moved eastwards, first appearing in western and northern Kordofan and then continuing across the Nile River to Gedaref in eastern Sudan. Some swarms may have already reached the western lowlands of Eritrea and northwest Ethiopia.
Hatching and hopper band formation are likely to start by the end of June in Darfur.
In Northwest Africa, in the spring breeding areas, Desert Locust infestations continued to decline. In northeast Morocco, 6 hectares (ha) of small residual populations of hoppers were treated near Oujda during the first decade of the month. In the south of Algeria, near Tamanrasset, control operations treated 1 200 ha of hoppers and scattered adults during the first week of June.
Mali, Niger and Chad
In West Africa, large-scale swarms are thought unlikely to invade the Sahel this year, but there has been an unconfirmed report by nomads of two swarms in northern Mali in early June. Last year, huge swarms invaded the Sahelian countries from northwest Africa causing extensive damage. More than US$200 million were spent by FAO, the Maghreb countries, and the international community to fight the worst locust upsurge in 15 years.
To prevent a repetition of last year's disaster, intensive survey operations should be immediately launched in Mali, Niger and Chad, continued in Mauritania and maintained in all of these countries during the summer breeding season, according to FAO Desert Locust expert Clive Elliott.
FAO is planning to deploy helicopters to Mauritania, Mali and Niger to reinforce survey and control capacities.
The most up-to-date information on the Desert locust situation is available on the new FAO locust web site: http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts.
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