05 September, 2007

The Invasion of Hadhramout

For the last few weeks I have been hearing of how swarms of locusts have descended here and I have seen too - the great, unbelievable damage done to the crops and fields around ; but I had never seen any of the creatures until yesterday. Last afternoon, I saw up in the sky - this dark massive shadow moving; at first, I didn't know what it was. The movement was so eerie (reminding me of the movie 'The Mummy'), that I thought that my eyes were playing with me. It was only later, after the locusts had disappeared, that I realised that the dark moving shadow were locusts. What an experience! Later in the evening, a friend of mine managed to take some photos of some of the grasshoppers. A few had landed around. With locusts, some fly and some - the little ones - just hop.

I have seen locusts on the ground before, some years back. I was then with friends, in this desert in central Yemen; and one morning we saw swarms of grasshoppers (all still hopping) rapidly moving towards us. The locusts covered such a wide distance and were so many (maybe millions), and moved so rapidly, that within minutes they were gone - that we all couldn't help but be completely awed. By the time the locusts had moved and gone, we noticed that the few greenery and shrubs around, had completely been eaten by the grasshoppers.

It is reportedly said that - so far, Hadhramout and Yemen as a whole, have lost millions (US Dollars) worth of agricultural products. And although some Yemenis catch the locusts, fry them and eat them, the damage done by the tiny creatures wherever they swoop through, is so enormous and hard to comprehend, until one sees it first hand.