As insects disappear, so do Kenya’s traditional forecasts
Thomson Reuters Foundation, 11 October 2013

UASIN GISHU, KENYA: For decades, indigenous farmers living in Kenya’s Rift Valley have predicted the weather by observing the behaviour of insects. Such traditional knowledge guided their decisions about when to prepare land for planting, as well as what kinds of crops to sow. But climate change and the increasingly variable weather patterns in the Rift Valley region have led to a decline in the ants, along with other insects, making it difficult for farmers to predict the weather for the coming season. The effect is not only seen in weather forecasting. Some insects play an important role in pollinating crops, and farmers’ yields have dropped along with insect numbers. Farmers also observe formations of Hadeda ibis birds in the evening sky to predict rain, while some noises made by frogs and toads are taken to indicate fair weather the next day. When the medicinal baobab tree sheds its leaves, the farmers say, dry spells are around the corner. Read the article …