Upsurge declining in Horn of Africa where rains start
Desert Locust swarms are continuing to decline in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia as a result of ongoing control operations. However, good rains have fallen this month in parts of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia that should allow current swarms to mature and lay eggs. This is likely to give rise to hatching and the formation of hopper bands during May. Compared to one year ago, the scale and extent of the upcoming breeding will be significantly smaller, and the teams, aircraft and other control resources that are currently in place should be able to manage the anticipated breeding.
Even though the situation continues to improve, it is paramount that all countries sustain their current survey and control efforts in reducing existing swarms as well as detecting and controlling any breeding in the coming months. Intense vigilance must be maintained until the autumn.
Currently, the majority of the locust infestations in the region are present in Ethiopia where immature swarms persist to the east of the Rift Valley in the Bale Mountains and Harar Highlands. Both these areas have received rainfall that has runoff towards the eastern lowlands where breeding is expected to occur. In the past week, immature and mature swarms have recently appeared in some of these areas, primarily in the Somali region from south of Jijiga to Kebri Dehar. Although the situation remains calm further south, a few small swarms may be present in southern Oromia and SNNP.
In Somalia, a few immature swarms were treated in the northeast between Galkayo and Gardo while there have been no recent reports of swarms in the northwest. In Kenya, a few elusive small swarms persist in Samburu county where they are maturing.
The further decline of the current upsurge in the Horn of Africa depends on rainfall and control operations during this spring and summer. If only limited breeding occurs in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia from now until June, followed by poor rains in northeast Ethiopia during the summer, and assuming that survey and control operations can be maintained, then the situation is likely to return to normal by autumn.
Elsewhere, limited control operations continue against hopper bands on the Red Sea coast in Sudan. Control operations also continue against hopper groups and bands in the interior of Saudi Arabia where more hatching and band formation are expected within a widespread area. In Iran, control operations are underway against a few mature adult groups and swarms in the southwest where breeding is imminent.