Locusts' Swarms Hit Kenya

Published February 18th, 2021 - 08:03 GMT

As dawn breaks in central Kenya, a helicopter lifts off in a race to find roosting locusts before the sun warming their bodies and sending them on a ravenous flight through farmland.

Pilot Kieran Allen begins his painstaking survey from zebra-filled plains and lush maize farms, to dramatic forested valleys and the vast arid expanses further north, his eyes scouring the landscape for signs of the massed insects.

The chopper suddenly swings around after a call comes in from the locust war room on the ground: a community in the foothills of Mount Kenya has reported a swarm.

"I am seeing some pink in the trees," his voice crackles over the headphones, pointing to a roughly 30-hectare (75-acre) swathe of desert locusts.

View as a slider
View as a list
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021,shows Cyril Ferrand, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Resilience Team Leader for eastern Africa, walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021,shows Cyril Ferrand, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Resilience Team Leader for eastern Africa, walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 8, 2021, shows a pilot following a swarm of desert locust during the surveillance flight as local farmers use fires to produce smoke to chase away locusts from their fields in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 8, 2021, shows a pilot following a swarm of desert locust during the surveillance flight as local farmers use fires to produce smoke to chase away locusts from their fields in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a swarm of desert locust fly after an aircraft sprayed pesticide in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a swarm of desert locust fly after an aircraft sprayed pesticide in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP

A picuture taken on February 9, 2021,shows Cyril Ferrand, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Resilience Team Leader for eastern Africa, walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 8, 2021, shows a pilot following a swarm of desert locust during the surveillance flight as local farmers use fires to produce smoke to chase away locusts from their fields in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a swarm of desert locust fly after an aircraft sprayed pesticide in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021,shows Cyril Ferrand, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Resilience Team Leader for eastern Africa, walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021,shows Cyril Ferrand, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Resilience Team Leader for eastern Africa, walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 8, 2021, shows a pilot following a swarm of desert locust during the surveillance flight as local farmers use fires to produce smoke to chase away locusts from their fields in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 8, 2021, shows a pilot following a swarm of desert locust during the surveillance flight as local farmers use fires to produce smoke to chase away locusts from their fields in Meru, Kenya. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a swarm of desert locust fly after an aircraft sprayed pesticide in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a swarm of desert locust fly after an aircraft sprayed pesticide in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
A picuture taken on February 9, 2021, shows a local farmer walking in a swarm of desert locust in Meru, Kenya. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation works with a variety of Kenyan security, logistics and charter companies who have expanded their operations to closely track swarms of locusts in East Africa, before dispatching teams to targeted areas to spray the insects with pesticides to prevent damage to crops and grazing areas. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP
It has been over a year since the worst desert locust infestation in decades hit the region, and while another wave of the insects is spreading through Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, the use of cutting edge technology and improved co-ordination is helping to crush the ravenous swarms and protect the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP