Locusts population in Samburu 'up 100 times' as they hatch

Wednesday February 26 2020

A local in Kiplekwa village, Baringo Central chases away a swarm of desert locusts that have invaded the area on February 23, 2019. PHOTO | FLORAH KOECH | NATION MEDIA GROUP


A new generation of desert locusts has hatched in Samburu County and formed swarms close to 100 times larger than the earlier wave that descended in the region, officials said Wednesday.

Statistics from the Samburu County administration indicate that the voracious insects have been laying eggs along their migratory paths, starting from Isiolo County through Sirata Lalkanchao and Acher's Post areas.

Samburu County Special Programmes chief officer Daniel Lesaigor said fresh swarms were entering the county from the neighbouring Isiolo and Laikipia counties.

Mr Lesaigor expressed fear that the newly-hatched hoppers will grow into new swarms. He warned that the new generation is 100 times more populous than the parent swarms and could rise to 500 times by April if uncontrolled.

“The hopper bands will definitely mature into swarms and ravage crops and pasture,” he said.

With vegetation exhausted in most parts of Samburu East, pastoralists from neighbouring counties are streaming in, leading to conflicts.


At least 43 locust hatching sites have been identified in Waso, West Gate and Nkoriche in Samburu North constituency.

The rate of destruction poses an unprecedented threat to pasture and food security, said Mr Lesaigor.

On Monday, fresh swarms of the ferocious pest reportedly descended in the East of Samburu from neighbouring Isiolo County. Herders in Samburu East have also reported sighting newly-hatched hopper bands.

Wherever the voracious pests have landed, they have destroyed crops and vegetation cover.

Mr Lesaigor praised the government’s effort to contain the pests by deploying National Youth Service (NYS) trainees to help in ground spraying.

“The information we have is they (locusts) are still moving towards the East; that is our worry but we hope to control them,” he said.

Last week, the government deployed more than 85 NYS trainees in Samburu as part of an action plan to boost spraying efforts.

Currently, 17 counties -- Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia, Meru, Kitui, Embu, Machakos, Murang’a, Makueni and Kajiado -- have been infested by the disastrous pests.

Desert locusts can consume huge amounts of vegetation with a swarm eating roughly the same amount as 35,000 people, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).