Distribution and density of tsetse flies (Glossinidae: Diptera) at the game/people/livestock interface of the Nkhotakota Game Reserve human sleeping sickness focus in Malawi

31 Mar 2010

In large parts sub-Saharan Africa, tsetse flies, the vectors of African human or animal trypanosomiasis, are, or will in the foreseeable future, be confined to protected areas such as game or national parks. Challenge of people and livestock is likely to occur at the game/livestock/people interface of such infested areas. Since tsetse control in protected areas is difficult, management of trypanosomiasis in people and/or livestock requires a good understanding of tsetse population dynamics along such interfaces. The Nkhotakota Game Reserve, an important focus of human trypanosomiasis in Malawi, is a tsetse-infested protected area surrounded by a virtually tsetse-free zone. The abundance of tsetse (Glossina morsitans morsitans) along the interface, within and outside the game reserve, was monitored over 15 months using epsilon traps. A land cover map described the vegetation surrounding the traps. Few flies were captured outside the reserve. Inside, the abundance of tsetse at the interface was low but increased away from the boundary. This uneven distribution of tsetse inside the reserve is attributed to the uneven distribution of wildlife, the main host of tsetse, being concentrated deeper inside the reserve. Challenge of people and livestock at the interface is thus expected to be low, and cases of trypanosomiasis are likely due to people and/or livestock entering the reserve. Effective control of trypanosomiasis in people and livestock could be achieved by increasing the awareness among people of dangers associated with entering the reserve.