Parsito Kitongo

Kenya Opuntia stricta

Parsito is a pastoralist in the Laikipia District of Kenya. Opuntia infests his land, which he used to graze his livestock on. He is finding it harder and harder to protect his livelihood from the invasive cactus.

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The problem

The land where Parsito grazes his livestock has been overrun with Opuntia stricta. The animals eat the cactuses' fruit, which are covered in tiny spines called glochids. These have been known the punchure animal's stomachs, which puts them at risk of developing life-threatening infections. Livestock are often also blinded when they try and forage between the cacti. Opuntia is causing him and many others to move from their land. But where will they go? Opuntia is causing problems across swathes of Kenya and it is very hard to control manually. It is also smothering native plants, which Parsito and his community use.


  • Kills animals
  • Decreases grazing land
  • Smothers native plants
Parsito Kitongo Parsito Kitongo

Opuntia in Laikipia Opuntia in Laikipia

Affected by:

Opuntia Preferred Scientific Name: Opuntia stricta
Opuntia Cactus Opuntia Cactus

Opuntia (Opuntia stricta) was introduced to Africa and Australia as an ornamental plant. It has since spread throughout these continents and many more countries worldwide. The horticultural trade has been blamed for the spread as it is often imported for gardens and displays.


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