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‘Highly mobile’ locust swarm could cause ‘biblical catastrophe’, United Nations warns

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

According to the United Nations, the outbreak of crop eating locusts over recent months has been the biggest recorded in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and Kenya for 70 years.

A "highly mobile" swarm of locusts have embarked on what some have deemed a 'path of destruction' across Africa, meaning that millions across the continent may be left without crops or food if the swarm continues to migrate.

According to the United Nations, swarms of these locusts in recent months have been the biggest that has ever been recorded in some countries, including Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years. In Kenya these swarms haven't been seen for at least 70 years.

Further, the upcoming monsoon season will provide the perfect warm and moist environment for the locust population to boom, providing a second wave of swarming to occur.

According to the National Geographic, a swarm of this species can contain up to 40 or even 80 million insects, and one species of locust being able to consume an equivalent of its body weight in a single day.

According to UN estimates, a group of 40 million locusts — a number on the smaller end of these swarms — is is able to consume the same amount of food as three million people in one day.

Keith Cressman, senior locust forecaster at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, had suggested that a potential 'disaster' could hit East Africa, saying: "20 million people are already considered acutely food insecure".

He wrote in the Nikkei Asian Review: "The scale of the upsurge is difficult to imagine.

"Thousands of hectares of pastures and crops are being wiped out in communities where farmers need every gram of food to feed themselves and their families."

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Mr Cressman also said that authorities must ensure that swarms are under control before the monsoon seasons to avoid a "full-blown catastrophe".

Earlier this year, the Chinese army deployed 100,000 ducks to combat a locust outbreak in Pakistan, which had been declared a national emergency due to the pests.

Senior Researcher at the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences Lu Lizhi told Bloomberg that platoons of ducks are expected to be sent to Pakistan as early as the second half of this year. 

"One duck is able to eat more than 200 locusts a day," Ms Lizhi said.

Source: 9News

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