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Combating tsetse flies in the Mara ecosystem on course

The population of tsetse flies at the Maasai Mara ecosystem has greatly reduced, thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture through Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC) that put measures to control the pest.

Speaking during a field trip at Olkenyei Conservancy in Narok West Sub County, KENTTEC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Pamela Olet said the continuous efforts to combat tsetse flies has helped in boosting livestock production and enhanced tourism in the area.

“The tsetse flies were a big menace to the livestock farmers and tourists who visit the game reserve. But we are happy that the population has decreased. We have driven around the park and did not find any fly,” she said, adding that before, there was no way one could drive around the park with windows open because of the high population of tsetse flies.

She said the mandate of her organization is to coordinate eradication of tsetse flies, set standards and mitigate the social economic constraints caused by the pest.

“We have to remain vigilant and work hard to ensure no human being is infected by diseases caused by tsetse flies. We can confirm that for some years now, there has been no report of human infection in this area,” said Dr. Olet.

The CEO added they were working closely with the neigbouring Tanzania to eliminate the spread of tsetse flies as the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem straddles across the two countries.

The Rift Valley region KENTTEC coordinator Ms. Silvia Korir said her organization has made huge strides in fighting tsetse flies since they began their operation at the Mara ecosystem in 2017.

Ms. Korir said a recent survey conducted by KENTTEC showed a catch of 3-4 flies per trap which is a big drop from that conducted in the year 2017 when 34 flies were caught per trap.

“This has been realized through our partnership with farmers, conservancies, county government and KENTTEC. The residents have been advised on how to spray the flies,” she said.

Olkenyei Conservancy Senior Warden Simon Nkoitoi confirmed that tsetse flies were a big menace at the conservancy and a threat to tourist and livestock farmers.

However, after KENTTEC started its operation in the area five years ago, the population has decreased and rarely would you hear a case of sleeping sickness that was previously common.

“KENTTEC has worked closely with the conservancies and livestock farmers where they give insecticides and equipment to the farmers and train them how to use them so as to eradicate the pests,” he said.

By Ann Salaton

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