7 January 2005, Rome -- Despite recent improvements, the Desert Locust situation remains serious in Western Africa where vigilance and intensive control operations are still needed, according to FAO.
In Northwest Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania continued intensive control operations against immature swarms during last December. Late forming swarms from summer breeding in the Sahel reinvaded parts of southeastern Mauritania and eastern Senegal.
Some of these swarms continued south into Gambia and southern Senegal, reaching central Guinea Bissau and probably northern Guinea. The swarms in Guinea Bissau have caused great concern there.
About 880,000 ha were treated from the air and on the ground in West and Northwest Africa during December 2004, compared to 2.2 million in the previous month. The total area treated since the beginning of the upsurge (October 2003) has now reached 12 million ha, according to FAO''s latest Desert Locust bulletin.
"Control actions are becoming less extensive than in the period August-December 2004. However, all concerned should remain vigilant," FAO said.
"Countries in West and Northwest Africa have made great efforts in controlling the swarms coming out from the Sahel, but only in March-April 2005 will it be possible to have clear indications on what scale breeding will occur and on what scale the Sahel will be reinvaded in summer," FAO added.
The Red Sea area
Hatching and the formation of small hopper groups and bands are expected to occur in some places along the Red Sea.
Immature adult groups and swarms were reported in northern Egypt as well as in the Western Desert and the Sinai Peninsula during December.
Some of the adults reached the winter breeding areas along the coastal plains of the Red Sea in southern Egypt where a few had become mature and were breeding. In adjacent areas of northeast Sudan, two swarms laid eggs at the end of December.
In order to review the locust situation in the countries affected by the upsurge, Senegal is organizing an international Scientific Locust Seminar in Dakar from 11 to 13 January 2005. Its main objective is to identify strategies for a sustainable management of Desert Locust populations.