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Yemen / Saudi Arabia Joint Border Survey (Jan 2004)

A five-day survey was conducted on both sides of the Yemen / Saudi Arabia border on the Red Sea coast which is an important breeding area for the Desert Locust. The joint team consisted of three Locust Officers from each country and a locust expert from FAO Headquarters.

As the area is relatively small (40 km W-E by 20 km N-S) and can be surveyed in a day or two, adjacent areas were also surveyed this year. This allowed additional time to introduce and practice new technologies (eLocust, SPOT-VGT, satellite modem) as well as to assess habitat conditions and the locust situation. The team made 23 stops during three days of actual survey.

In Yemen, no locusts were seen along the border where vegetation was very dry because of a lack of recent rainfall. Some 50 km south of the border, vegetation became greener near Wadi Hayran. Isolated solitarious adults were seen about 160 km south of the border in a few places northeast of Hodeidah where it was green and good rains fell on 7-8 December 2003.

In Saudi Arabia, no Desert Locusts were seen along the coastal plains between the border and Jizan (50 km) where vegetation was green. The team surveyed right up to the border on the Saudi side along its entire length from the sea to the coastal foothills (40 km). There is an empty No Man's Land (Joint Area) in between Saudi Arabia and Yemen that is about 2-5 km wide. The team was allowed to survey inside this area with a military escort. Vegetation was very dry and no locusts were seen.

On 14 January, moderate rain fell throughout the day along the border and in adjacent areas in Yemen (from Hodeidah northwards) and Saudi Arabia (from Jizan southwards). This was the first rain in several months. Rainfall was heaviest near Midi and Harad (Yemen), between Harad and Wadi W. Taashshaw (north of At Tuwal) and in the Joint Area. Wadis Harad, bin Abdullah and Taashshaw were flowing rapidly and flooding adjacent areas, indicating that heavier rains fell in the nearby mountains. Standing water was seen in many places on the plains.

Click on any photo below:

Yemen / Saudi Arabia border marker.
Green vegetation about 150 km south of the border in Yemen on 13 Jan. (145522N/460357E)
Moderate rains fell near the border on 14 Jan (W. Rahban, 1622N/4257E).
Standing water in between the two borders on 15 Jan (1622N/4249E).
Field data and observations were entered into eLocust.
Vegetation was dry in between the borders where it rained the day before (1624N/4255E)
Greener vegetation 40 km north of the border in Saudi Arabia on 15 Jan (1653N/4254E).
Joint Survey participants from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and FAO.

A service provided by the Migratory Pests Group to monitor the world-wide locust situation and keep
affected countries and donors informed of expected developments.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, Rome, Italy