The Baringo county and the national surveillance team have confirmed the presence of desert locusts at the top of Mt. Tiaty in Tirioko area of East Pokot Sub County.
The team led by a Captain Cheruiyot on Tuesday morning located the locusts in areas of Kalpesa, Mkochepleng and Kaapelow after conducting an aerial surveillance.
The confirmation of the presence of desert locusts in parts of the vast county follows a two day extensive ground surveillance after residents of Kamurio village reported the invasion of the devastating pests in the area.
A senior official from the ministry of agriculture who overflew the region with the national team but did not want to be named told the press in Kabarnet town that they managed to sight the locusts, busy feeding on lush vegetation along ridges at the top of the mountain, which is extremely inaccessible.
The agricultural officer said that there is high possibility of the locust settling down and breeding immediately, thus causing a lot of devastation to vegetation or trees fed by animals in the pastoralist inhabited region.
“Spraying will start once the national surveillance team sent by the ministry of agriculture complete mapping of the area and putting in place appropriate logistics for the exercise,” said the officer.
The residents who saw the locust over the weekend expressed fears that the pests threaten to wipe out green vegetation including crops and pasture, thus starving their livestock.
When the press toured the region on a fact finding mission today, the locals reported that the locust were spotted at Kamurio, Kabunyany, Kamokol, Maron and Tiaty hills over the weekend.
They said they suspected the locust entered the county from Suguta Valley direction in Samburu County through Churo, Tangulbei, Kapedo North hills down to Kapau, Kamurio where they briefly settled before heading to Tiaty hills.
Some residents said they witnessed the swarm of locusts as it headed towards Mt. Tiaty from Kamurio, saying they had to use all means possible including beating of drums and smoke to chase and scare away the invasive pests from their village.
Matthew Lokwete, a resident, said he personally saw the swarm of locust on Sunday at around 10am and it appeared like a dark cloud in the sky over Chepukana hill and when it landed in their village it was difficult to walk because they settled over the ground and on trees.
Another resident, Chepotesirwo Lonoki, living on the slopes of Mt. Tiaty could not hide her emotions as she vividly narrated the locust ordeal in her native Pokot dialect saying she was deeply shocked by the swarm that scared villagers and sounded like earthmovers.
The middle aged woman who believed the locust could have been sent by the devil asked for a divine intervention from the church and swift action by government.
The Tirioko ward MCA, Sam Lokales who accompanied the press said it was difficult trace the devastating locust across the vast area because of its tough terrain and steep slopes.
“The only way to manage the locust here is through the use of aircraft,” he explained.
Lokales noted that the locust believed to have migrated from Suguta Valley through the hills of Kapedo North sub location then Kapau enroute to Tirioko was a disaster to his constituents who rely on vegetation and pasture for their animals.
The MCA urged the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya to address the locust plight, saying they will not watch as the pests clear the vegetation or trees fed to animals as the dry spell season sets in.
He called on both county and national governments to move with speed and carry out spraying in order to eliminate the dreaded pests to avoid further destruction.
By Joshua Kibet/Cleophas Yego