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Monday, February 18, 2008

Locust swarms in Oman and Yemen update 18 February 2008

New reports indicate that a few locust swarms are present in Oman and Yemen. In southern Oman, an immature swarm was reported on 11 February in the Dhofar hills near Salalah. On the 13th, there was an unconfirmed report of a large immature swarm in northern Oman on the southern side of Jebel Akhdar near Al Hamra. Ground control operations were in progress earlier in the month in the central interior against late instar hopper bands and immature adults from local breeding that occurred near the Marmul oil fields and the coast. There is an increasing risk that a few swarms could reach the Batinah coastal plains in northern Oman and perhaps cross the Gulf to the Baluchistan coast in southeastern Iran and western Pakistan.

In eastern Yemen, two immature swarms were seen in the Al-Mahra region near the border of Oman between Hat and Shehen of 14 February. There is a high risk that a few swarms could move back and forth along the Yemen / Oman border.

In Ethiopia, immature locust swarms up to about 5 square km in size continue to be reported east of the Rift Valley in the highlands of Oromiya region, mainly in Borena, Arsi and Bale zones, and in southern Somali region in the past few days. Survey and control operations are difficult because of the mountainous terrain and because the swarms are highly mobile. Consequently, there remains a risk that the swarms could move several different directions: (1) south to northern Kenya, (2) west towards SNNPR region, (3) north to Djibouti and cross Bab el Mandeb to Yemen, (4) northwest into the Danakil Depression and to the southern coast of Eritrea, (5) northeast across the Somali plateau to the Gulf of Aden coast in northern Somalia, or (6) reinvade the Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia. In any case, swarms in the Horn of Africa will mature and lay eggs with the onset of the long rains (about March).

The above-mentioned countries should remain on high alert and take the necessary steps to monitoring the situation carefully and undertake control operations as necessary to reduce the threat to crops and livelihoods>

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