Panic has gripped some villages in Tirioko ward in Tiaty, Baringo County after a swarm of locusts invaded the area with massive destruction of vegetation seen by the Nation team Monday.
Locals have raised concern that the invasion is a threat to pasture and food security in the arid area.
According to residents, the locusts were sighted in Kamrio, Kapunyany, Chepkererat, Kamokol, Chepakana Hills, Tiaty Hills in Tirioko ward and Maron in Kerio Valley respectively.
When the Nation toured Kamrio and Chepakana Hills on Monday, massive destruction could be witnessed with green vegetation in areas where they had settled completely gone.
Cheposirwo Lonoki, a resident from Kamrio village, said the locusts were sighted on Saturday evening before migrating towards Kamokol Hills on Sunday evening.
“I was driving my livestock home from the grazing fields on Saturday evening when I heard a peculiar sound above my head sounding like birds. I was astonished to see a swarm of locusts, so many of them that I had to lie down to allow them go. The insects later landed at Chepakana hills,” said Ms Lonoki.
“We tried to scare them away by hitting drums and beating the trees where they landed but we were overwhelmed by the huge number. On Sunday evening they had migrated and we heard that another swarm was spotted in Kamokol and Kapunyany. We have not seen such a scenario in this region over the years,” she added.
John Lokidap, an elder, has called on the government to speed up efforts of eliminate the locusts, noting that there would be pasture shortage in the area if no urgent intervention is made.
“Livestock keeping is the major source of livelihood in this region and if these locusts continue to feed on vegetation, we foresee a looming pasture shortage. This will also cause conflict among neighbouring communities because of the limited resource,” said Mr Lokidap.
According to the elder, desert locusts similar to the ones seen in the area were first spotted in 1961.
Tirioko Ward Representative Sam Lokales said the locusts are believed to have moved from Suguta Valley on Saturday before crossing into the area.
He said the invasion may force pastoralists to migrate to neighbouring counties, sparking fears of inter-community conflict.
The County Government led by Governor Stanley Kiptis, County Commissioner Henry Wafula and the national government through the National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) are coordinating an appropriate response to the invasion.