Following on the recent swarms of Locusts in Egypt and Israel, here is an update of a blog on the topic (and on hyenas):
Locusts – because we collaborated with the Egyptian Locust Control Authority, which maintained a base camp and single engine planes for scouting. We shared camping grounds with the staff, and also benefitted from accompanying flights to survey possible locusts and locust swarms, which also allowed for low altitude surveys of wildlife and Beja camps throughout the area of southern Egypt – northern Sudan.
The best up-to-date information on locusts in Africa is provided by FAO’s Desert Locust Briefs site:
24 January (above): The Desert Locust situation remains serious in the winter breeding areas along both sides of the Red Sea. During January, ground and aerial control operations continue against hoppers bands and a few swarms in northeast Sudan (15,600 ha) and on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia (3,500 ha). Ground control operations are in progress against similar infestations in southeast Egypt (3,100 ha). Another generation of breeding will occur in the three countries, causing locust numbers to increase further. Recently, a few swarms were seen laying eggs on the coastal plains near the Sudan/Eritrea border. All efforts are required to monitor the situation carefully and undertake the necessary control operations.
On 2 March (above), at least one immature swarm appeared in the afternoon in the eastern Cairo districts of New Cairo and Mokattam and dispersed into several smaller swarmlets. The locusts originated from breeding that has been in progress since November in southeast Egypt between Berenice and the Sudanese border. As vegetation dried out, small groups and swarms of immature adults moved slowly north along the Red Sea coast, reaching Marsa Alam on 8 February, Hurghada on the 16th and Zafarana on the 26th. From there, a few moved to Cairo yesterday.
The locusts reached Cairo by flying on warm southerly and southeasterly winds associated with a low pressure system over the central Mediterranean. As this system moves further east in the coming days, the winds will shift and come from the west and then from the north by 5 March. As locusts fly with the wind, this will allow them to move towards northeast Egypt, the Sinai and, perhaps, Israel and southwest Jordan today and tomorrow. Therefore, it is unlikely that more locusts will appear in Cairo, and the threat to the Sinai, Israel and Jordan should decline after Monday.
National locust teams in Egypt undertook control operations in east Cairo yesterday evening. Survey and control operations continue in all infested areas of the country. Israel, Lebanon and Jordan have been alerted.
5 March (above): Remnants of several small immature Desert Locust swarms that appeared in Cairo, Egypt on 2 March were seen the following day near the international airport on the eastern edge of the city. Several small immature swarms moved to the northern Sinai Peninsula where they were seen on the northern coast near Bir El Abd and El Arish on 4 March. On the same day, locals reported seeing locusts south of El Arish near Jebel Halal, and at least one small swarm crossed the nearby border into the northern Negev Desert of Israel where it was seen in the Nitzana area near Be’er Milka. Control operations were undertaken immediately in both countries, and no damage to crops was reported.
Locust teams in both countries are checking all areas for any further infestations. There is a risk that a few more locusts from the Sinai will arrive in the Negev today on northwesterly winds, and some could reach adjacent areas of the Aqaba Valley in Jordan. From tomorrow onwards, the possibility of additional locust groups and small swarms moving into Israel and Jordan will decline considerably as the winds shift and come from the north and northeast.
FAO will continue to keep all affected countries informed on a regular and timely basis.
12 March (above): The Desert Locust situation continues to remain serious along both sides of the Red Sea. In the past few days, more groups and small swarms have moved from the breeding areas on the coast into the interior of Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. More locusts have also arrived in Israel and Eritrea. Survey and control operations are underway in all countries. Additional movements are expected during the remainder of March and countries should remain on alert.EGYPT. Vegetation is drying out on the Red Sea coast and subcoastal areas except in the El Shazly and Abraaq areas where a second generation of egg-laying is underway. In the past few days, more groups of immature and mature adults appeared from the coast in Upper Egypt along Lake Nasser and the Nile between Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo. During periods of warm southerly winds, more immature adult groups moved north along the Red Sea coast to Suez and the northern Sinai between Ismailia and El Arish. Similar infestations are likely to be present in the central Sinai where many areas are inaccessible. Ground teams treated nearly 7,000 ha so far in March, and 40,000 ha during the campaign. There is a risk of small groups and swarms arriving in the northeast during periods of warm southerly winds.
ISRAEL. Another wave of immature adults and small groups occurred from the Sinai on 10 March, reaching many coastal areas and the northern Negev Desert. No significant damage has occurred. Ground and aerial control operations treated nearly 2,000 ha so far in March. There is a risk of small groups and swarms arriving during periods of warm southerly and southwesterly winds.
PALESTINE. Small groups of immature adults have been reported in a few places in Gaza, most recently on 10 March. Many of the groups are moving back and forth across the Egypt/Israel border.
20 March (above): No further swarms have been reported recently along the Nile River in northern Sudan but substantial egg laying is thought to have occurred over a considerable distance of some 1,000 km near crops, stretching from Wadi Halfa to Atbara. Hatching began last week and hoppers are forming small but dense patches and bands. Hatching will continue for at least another week and more bands will form. In the northeast, the situation improved and few locusts remain on the Red Sea coast and near the Egypt border. On the southern coast, control operations continue against infestations near the Eritrea border.
In Egypt, locust infestations declined on the southeast coast of the Red Sea near the Sudan border due to control operations and drying conditions. On the other hand, groups of adults continue to be reported further inland near Lake Nasser, in the Red Sea Hills, east of Cairo, and in the northern Sinai Peninsula.
In Saudi Arabia, control operations continue against hopper groups, bands and adult groups on the Red Sea coastal plains mainly north of Jeddah and, to a lesser extent, to the south near Lith. Some adult groups moved further north along the coast.
In Israel, ground and aerial control operations continue against adults that are maturing and started to lay eggs in the northern Negev Desert.
For ongoing reports on the locust situation, follow FAO’s web page, which contains the above (and ongoing) maps.
As for hyenas – we were interested in them because early on in our work we were surprised to come across a small party of (3) hunters who had tracked and killed several fully grown striped hyenas, whose cadavers accompanied them (for skinning and-or stuffing in Cairo). Striped hyenas are quite rare in the project area and, since one major goal of our work was to scout and dart wildlife for drawing blood and taking parasite samples, it was considered a priority to find other hyenas for purposes of darting. Especially important, because hyenas eat carrion (as well as hunt for their meals) and thus might be a reservoir of diseases.
Spotted Hyenas, found in West, East and Southern Africa, are larger. Both are, according to IUCN, endangered.
To be continued…
- Swarms of Locusts Descend on Israel and Egypt (intellihub.com)
- Locusts Swarm Egypt: Residents Burn Tires to Drive Them Out (theepochtimes.com)
- Fertile locusts swarm into Israel on Passover eve (timesofisrael.com)
- Natural Environment of Egypt & Dr. Mohammed Kassas (dianabuja.wordpress.com)