The Pesky Tsetse Fly by Spreading Sleeping sickness in the savanna areas of Uganda created the present Wildlife Parks
The Tsetse Fly was the Creator of Uganda Wildlife Parks in Western Uganda
A tragic event in Ugandan History made way for the creation of Savanna Parks and remarkably the Tsetse Fly was the Creator of Uganda Wildlife Parks as we know them today.
Today there is no Sleeping Sickness transmitted by Tsetse flies in parks. Traps are used, along with spraying in reducing the number of Tsetse Flies.
As you drive along the vast savanna of Murchison Falls, parts of Queen Elizabeth park such as the Ishasha – you do not realize that at one time this area was inhabited by humans. They lived here in villages with their cattle in the areas of Queen Elizabeth Park and Murchison Falls – they pretty much lived in harmony with nature and the wildlife around them. There were about 300,000 people that lived in the areas that are now parks.
Between 1902-1910 over 200,000 people were wiped out by sleeping sickness brought about by the Tsetse fly and the cattle by Rinderpest.
the Western Rift Valley became a medical disaster area with people dying daily by the hundreds, even the livestock was affected by the scourge of Tsetse fly causing them to die of Rinderpest by the thousands.
When Winston Churchill visited Uganda he traveled to the Murchison Falls area where he found a village with just a handful of people still alive – the rest of the village of 6000 had been wiped out,
The English Colonial government began to evacuate and move the rest of the residents who were still alive and not gone off into eternal slumber – no one in this vast area of the Western (Albertine) Rift – what is now Queen Elizabeth Park, Semliki Valley which is now Semliki Park, Kabwoya Wildlife Reserves, Murchison Falls Park, Lake Mburo Park all became devoid of people, of cattle and other livestock and only the wild animals remained.
The English Colonial government took advantage of this tragedy of human history that had visited the people of the Western Rift and established wildlife reserves which today are some of the major parks of Uganda such Queen Elizabeth Park which was called Kazinga in the old days, Murchison Falls Park and Semliki National Park and Lake Mburo Park.
Today – as you take a game drive at Queen Elizabeth Park, at Semiliki Park and Wildlife Reserve, across the Savannah of Murchison Falls you might not have any idea that the creation of this park (at first wildlife reserve) is because of an invasion of tsetse flies spreading sleeping to the inhabitants of the area where you are now enjoying the African wild. I had a Tsetse fly suck blood out of me below Murchison Falls and besides the irritation, no problems.
Some of you reading this account may wonder if your visiting Murchison Falls or Queen Elizabeth Park will be attacked by Tsetse flies and nod off into the eternal slumber like the inhabitants of old. The Tsetse Fly was the Creator of Uganda Wildlife Parks however today sleeping sickness in the wildlife parks has been under control and that is not just in Uganda but other East African Southern African Countries with Savanna Parks.
In the 21st Century we can take some simple steps to avoid getting bitten by the Tsetse fly –you will not find Tsetse flies in Kampala. There are not as many Tsetse flies are not as many as there were and they do not carry sleeping sickness (I had the blood sucked out of me by one and I am still around 10 years later) – simply avoid wearing black or blue shirts during daytime. Do wear long-sleeved shirts (when I was bitten it was wearing a long-sleeved jean shirt – stick to Khaki shirts – no shorts. Insect repellent containing deet does not work. The Australian product RID has many enthusiastic fans claiming that it works against Tsetse flies and also Mosquitoes – you can buy it online from various online stores.
Here is the reality- most visitors to Uganda do no get bitten by Tsetse flies following the above advice none of our clients have come down with sleeping sickness – just remember as you drive across the savannas of Uganda that the park you are enjoying was because of the most tragic deaths of over 250,000 people and their livestock in the Western Rift Valley – a human tragedy…unfortunately the same was repeated in other East African Nations.
Wear neutral Clothing, avoid color blue for tops and shirts, wear long-sleeved shirts, a hat, long-trousers, and socks that come up to mid-knee..use the Australian Product RID available online, in Australia and one store that I know of of in the UK but not in North America presently. No client of ours or any other safari tour company has come down with sleeping sickness, you more likely to be hit by a car crossing the street in Kampala than get sleeping sickness from a Tsetse Fly on Safari in Uganda.