The Fall of Gaddafi and The Rise of the Desert Locust

Photo: Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations

The fall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya has an unforeseen consequence: the rise of the desert locusts.

Life's Little Mysteries explains:

"The fall of Gaddafi was an enormous factor, to be honest," said Keith Cressman, FAO senior locust forecasting officer, according to the Financial Times. "It depleted the Libyans' capacity to monitor and respond as they normally would."

Desert locust swarms formed in Libya and Algeria in mid-May after abundant rainfall facilitated growth of vegetation on which they feed. However, insecurity along the Libya-Algeria border — a consequence of the uprising — has prevented affected areas from being sprayed.

Gaddafi's regime tightly controlled the country's locust population, regularly sending convoys of survey and pest control vehicles into the desert areas where locusts breed, Cressman said. Libyan convoys even came to the aid of other African countries facing locust infestations. "But now they are the ones needing help," he said.


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