Impacts on the pastoral economy

Considering that substantial funds had been spent on disease surveillance and land reclamation, the Director of Veterinary Services in Kenya recommended that farmers might be ‘compensated for deaths [of their cattle] from trypanosomiasis and to treat all cases free of charge, at about £50 per annum,’ as a substitute to expending more funds on programs for controlling the flies. In Makueni, 56 percent of the herds (3,127 head of cattle) received treatment, with deaths estimated at 4.2 percent of the total cattle population.136 Based on the figures available, about 50 percent of the cattle presented for veterinary diagnosis tested positive for trypanosomiasis (Figure 8.3). Positive infections were reported during the wet season and the fewest were reported during the dry season. Consequently, this reservoir (cattle) was treated with prophylactic drugs such as ethidium and prothidium that required continuous disease surveillance.137

Tsetse fly control in East A frica 179

Number of cattle reported sick and those diagnosed positive for trypanosome parasites in their blood

Figure 8.3 Number of cattle reported sick and those diagnosed positive for trypanosome parasites in their blood.

Data source: Kenya National Archives (KNA).

In Ankole, Uganda, by 1944 the tsetse had re-invaded areas from which the pandemic had previously wiped out all the cattle.138 The agriculture policy at the time prohibited the use of grass fires, allowing bush to re- invade the areas.139 In response to the ecological changes, the cattle populations in this area showed fluctuations over a period of 16 years, perhaps reflecting periods between the tsetse upsurges (Figure 8.4). Between 1951 and 1955, the increase in cattle numbers was associated with successful control of Q. morsitans.140 In Uganda, the northward retreat of the tsetse fly freed the area for cattle grazing. It was claimed that the combined effects of bush clearing, and the destruction of game had a negative effect on the tsetse fly populations.141 However, what was rarely emphasized was the reversal of these gains, resulting in further expansion of tsetse flies. Without drug treatments, cattle eventually disappeared from areas that experienced a resurgence of the flies. Such was the case in the country east of Ankole where by 1959 cattle had almost completely disappeared. The few surviving herds were sustained only by drug treatments against the trypanosome variant caused by Q. morsitans.141

By the 1940s, in central and northern Uganda, an estimated 12,874 km2 of cattle country had been lost to Q. mortisans and Q. pallidipes. Additionally, in the region of Busoga, also in Uganda, there was a new outbreak of sleeping sickness. The tsetse control team was overstretched and due to the limited number of qualified staff, the tsetse flies advanced into new areas. In a few places where control of the flies was targeted, a combination of methods

Cattle census in Ankole, Uganda, 1942-1965

Figure 8.4 Cattle census in Ankole, Uganda, 1942-1965.

including game elimination and intensive pig hunting, as well as the applica- tion of late season hot fires showed some promising results.

By the end of the 1950s—nearly 70 years after tsetse control had first been attempted—research efforts had still not succeeded in the war against the vector.14’ In ending this chapter, three factors have become clear. First, tsetse research and control were responsible for vast destruction of the vegetation in East Africa. Second, imperial science—despite the overwhelming evidence—did not admit that tsetse research and control had contributed to the so-called environmental crisis. Third, the fly had displaced human populations from vast areas. In Chapter 9 we will investigate the history of locust plagues—a pest that caused much damage to the economies of the East African colonies.

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