The maligned tsetse fly has been the source of much discussion in the more remote and wild parts of Southern Africa. Similar in some regards to a house fly, they deliver a stinging bite and, in some areas and a small number of cases, they can carry sleeping sickness (tryanosomiasis) which, if detected early is very treatable.
Although parts of the Kafue National Park have a bad reputation for tsetse flies, at Nanzhila Plains Safari Camp we are often asked how bad the tsetse fly issue is, and whether it should make people think twice about visiting.
However, we at Nanzhila have a slightly different attitude about the tsetse. Many people know to avoid dark coloured clothes and we find that the flies are only really present in the warmer hours whilst on game drive in certain ‘belts’ of the park. As they never hassle us at camp, we have learned to manage them very simply with an organic approach!
We burn a small bolus of dry elephant dung in a little bucket on the back of the game drive vehicle. Whilst the vehicle is moving, the flies generally don’t bother us and, when we stop for sightings, the burning dung smells almost exactly the same as burning grass, and this acts as a deterrent to the flies.
But more importantly for us, due to the fact that tsetse flies transmit nagana to livestock, a presence of tsetse flies almost invariably means reduced levels of livestock and mixed agriculture, which in turn means there is less pressure on the park’s resources, as well as reduced human-animal conflict.
So the next time you find yourselves thinking twice about a safari because of tsetse flies, think of them as Africa’s original conservation icons and then come along and see the good work they have done in preserving the larger and more charismatic creatures!