I can’t imagine that anyone has ever welcomed the arrival of locust swarms but, goodness, they are certainly interesting. In this lovely little book – part science, part autobiography – Colin Everard tells tales of his time in the Horn of Africa 60 or so years ago.
He started out inspecting camel watering holes and moved on to the wonderful title of Locust Field Officer. The devastation caused by these pesky creatures is well-known, and has been irritating humanity across Africa, Asia and the Mid-East since antiquity, but how do you limit the damage? Everard offers a keen analysis of the scientific developments that have helped the cause – from pesticides that don’t do too much environmental harm, to satellite observation. You will also learn all you’ll ever need to know about locust breeding habits.
But this all pales in comparison with Everard’s compelling anecdotes that expose a true love of the region and its peoples. Sure, it was sometimes a dangerous posting with plenty of, as he puts it, ‘thumping heart’ moments but there were also the times when he supped sugary-tea under acacia trees, made friends with ferocious-looking bushmen and, elsewhere on his travels, was offered a 12-egg omelette. Into the bargain, Everard’s appreciation of the region’s natural beauty is infectious.
I have always had some respect for locusts: they are so terribly efficient. But something had to be done and Everard and his colleagues were on the right side of the ethical equation. He humbly states in his introduction that ‘I felt that some true accounts of situations in which I found myself might be interesting, sometimes perhaps even entertaining.’ You bet they are!
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