Locust plague possible in Madagascar

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 June 2011

A current build up of locust populations in south-western Madagascar could turn into a plague and seriously endanger the livelihoods of 13 million people unless a new campaign is launched to contain the crop-devouring insects, FAO said today.

A bio pesticide used in 2010 prevented a locust upsurge escalating into a plague

According to latest estimates on the ground some 300 000 ha of locust-infested territory needs to be treated from November 2011 to May 2012 at a cost of $7.6 million.

“We must break the locust population dynamics in order to prevent further developments that could affect the island for years and seriously impact on the livelihoods of two thirds of the population, or 13 million people,” said FAO Locust Officer Annie Monard, who is coordinating anti-locust operations in Madagascar.

Locust upsurge

Since August 2010 FAO, together with the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and USAID has been helping the Malagasy Locust Control Centre (CNA) contain populations of Malagasy Migratory Locusts following an upsurge in March of last year.

After training and formation of national teams, anti-locust operations were concentrated in the months from October 2010 to April 2011, corresponding to the rainy season and the locust breeding period. Some 200 000 hectares (ha) infested by locusts were sprayed by helicopter while ground-based control measures were deployed over 27 000 ha and are continuing.  Continue reading

Island logging continues unabated

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 16 January 2011

Following the signatures of 5000 WWF supporters on a WWF online petition to stop illegal logging of precious woods in Madagascar, WWF urges Andry Rajoelina, the president of the transitional government of Madagascar to deliver what he promised and stop illegal logging once and for all.

Illegal rosewood logging in Madagascar. Photo: Stuart Pimm

At a meeting with WWF representatives in October last year, the country’s President Andry Rajoelina promised to make an official declaration to stop all illegal logging of precious woods in the island’s north eastern humid forests. He declared hat resources would be made available to support local authorities to implement appropriate management plans to secure the forests in the future.

However, no such public declaration has been made to date, and illegal logging continues to devastate the island’s precious and fragile environment.

“Andry Rajoelina told us he wanted to stop illegal logging. He also said he wanted to call on countries who import the timber, and especially China, not to buy rosewood products anymore and is ready to co-finance actions to stop illegal logging with government funds” says Niall O’Connor, Regional Representative of WWF Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean.

”Now is the time for action. WWF urges him and the Government to deliver what they promised!” Continue reading

Madagascan ‘charbonniers’ devastate forests

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 August 2010

Two years of drought and late arrival of the rainy season in south western Madagascar have forced hundreds of farmers into charcoal producing which is devastating forests, according to WWF field staff at Tollara.

© WWF MWIOPO / Martina Lippuner

“Charcoal production in the South of Madagascar is particularly unsustainable as people cut the natural spiny forest, a unique ecosystem which exists nowhere else” says Bernardin Rasolonandrasana, Spiny Forest Eco-regional Leader for WWF in Toliara. “We are horrified to see the amount of charcoal currently coming out of those forests.”

Farmers were driven from their fields after rain did not arrive in quantity or the usual December to March periods over the last two years.  Ironically the cyclone of the beginning of June, which brought rain in abundance and has now turned the area uncharacteristically green, was no help to farmers whose crops had already withered away.

The lack of regulations and control makes the charcoal business an obvious, if highly destructive alternative.  Now threatened is an area of threatened natural spiny forest which received temporary protection status only in December 2008. PK-32 Ranobe, an hour north of regional capital Toliara is co-managed by WWF and an inter-communal association. Continue reading

Crop-eating locusts swarm over Madagascar

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 12 August 2010

Madagascar is at risk of a significant plague of crop-eating locusts, FAO warned today.

An average swarm eats the same as about 2 500 people in one day

An unknown number of immature swarms of Malagasy Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria capito) have formed up and moved out of the country’s south-western corner, where they are usually contained, and have begun to spread east and north, as far as Maintirano.

The government estimates that 460 000 rural families are potentially at risk.

A major, months-long control campaign will be necessary starting in advance of Madagascar’s upcoming rainy season, which begins in mid-October, to stop locust numbers from growing and prevent them from reaching plague proportions.

Madagascar is currently in its dry and cool season, which is unsuitable for locust breeding. But the wet and hot weather of the rainy season – which lasts until spring — will favour rapid reproduction.

Given suitable conditions, locusts can produce a new generation roughly every two months and up to four during one year. Continue reading