An invasive species that locals have dubbed the Devil’s Cactus is spreading through Kenya fast. This is having a major impact on wildlife and humans alike, but Kenya has some interesting countermeasures.
The main measure the country will use is biocontrol. This is when a new species that will not have a harmful impact on the environment is introduced to remove or control the invasive species.
In this case, they will be using cochineal insects, which feed off of the cacti. The choice was made because this is not the first time this cactus has invaded another country. A similar case happened in Australia, which was resolved with this method.
Impact on Elephants
One of the main reasons the Devil’s Cactus is so problematic is because of the many endangered species in the region. One, in particular, is the elephant.
The fruit that these cacti produce lures in elephants. However, as a result of eating it, the elephants get covered with cacti spines and not just on the outside. Their mouth and stomach both get damage as a result of eating these.
As the plant continues to spread towards human settlements. The elephants are also being drawn in as well. And with poachers on the prowl, it isn’t good news.
To get a better understanding of where the Devil’s Cactus is spreading, drones are being utilized for reconnaissance.
On top of this, there is an actual phone app dedicated to tracking the plant. Farmers and locals can take a picture of the cacti and upload its coordinates using the app.
So far, over 300 square kilometers have been mapped out as a result of the app, which makes it an overwhelming success. Of course, Kenya has connectivity issues, which is why the app was designed to also be used offline.