In its latest update on the locust threat in Africa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for intensified survey operations in Sudan and neighbouring Eritrea after several swarms moved across the area in mid-June. In early June, a few swarms originating from the so-called Southern Circuit in Guinea moved across West Africa, eventually reaching Sudan’s western Darfur where they quickly matured, FAO reported. Some swarms laid eggs in western and northern Darfur, scene of a major conflict between the Government, militias and rebels, while others moved eastwards across the Nile River to Gedaref in eastern Sudan. Some swarms may have already reached the western lowlands of Eritrea and northwest Ethiopia, FAO added. Hatching and hopper band formation are likely to start by the end of June in Darfur, it said. Meanwhile in West Africa, which last year saw the worst locust upsurge in 15 years, large scale swarms are thought unlikely to invade this year. But there has been an unconfirmed report by nomads of two swarms in northern Mali in early June and intensive survey operations should be immediately launched in Mali, Niger and Chad, continued in Mauritania and maintained in all of these countries during the summer breeding season, according to FAO Desert Locust expert Clive Elliott. Last year, huge swarms invaded countries bordering the Sahara Desert from Northwest Africa causing extensive damage. More than $200 million were spent by FAO, national governments and the international community to fight the scourge.