NOUAKCHOTT - Mauritania has launched a campaign to treat and monitor locusts following the arrival of swarms in the north of the west African country, the centre against locust invasions said Tuesday.
The locusts in the Bennichab region, 150 kilometres north of the capital Nouakchott, have since October 5 been subject to "active treatment and the situation remains under intensive observation" said the center in a bulletin.
Since October 6, teams have treated some 790 infested hectares, according to the statement.
The authorities affirmed that at present they have sufficient means to treat the level of infestation, but the centre "fears the arrival of other swarms due to favourable ecological conditions following recent summer rainfall."
"The danger lies in the fact that there are mature locusts which are already mating and whose larvae can evolve fast and make the situation more difficult," centre director Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Babah told the official news agency Agence Mauritanienne d'Information (AMI).
A UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) team is in the region to study the extent of the new invasion and to assess what means to deploy.
Last week, the FAO asked national locust centres in Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and other countries to activate their surveillance systems after a swarm of locusts measuring eight square kilometres (three square miles) was reported in Mauritania, which borders on the countries named.
In 2004, a locust invasion ravaged a vast quantity of crops in the mainly desert country and left almost a million people at risk of starvation.