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New technology to fight deadly tsetse fly mooted by government :: Kenya

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Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council board members observing a tsetse fly trap at Olkinyei Wildlife Conservancy near Masai Mara Game Reserve. [Robert Kiplagat/Standard]

The Government has taken the war against sleeping sickness a notch higher by introducing a new technology to kill tsetse flies.

The Kenya Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Council (KENTTEC) is piloting the new technology at Olkinyei Wildlife Conservancy Masai Mara Game Reserve.

It will involve using a gadget christened ‘Tiny Target’ made of a piece of blue and black material and laced with synthetic pyrethroid pesticide that kills the fly when it lands on it.

A pyrethroid is an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums. Pyrethroids constitute the majority of commercial household insecticides. They may also have insect repellent properties and are generally harmless to humans.

KENTTEC Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Ronald Ochwada said the new technology has so far proved to be effective in getting rid of tsetse flies.

Cost effective

“This new technology is cost effective and the gadget is portable and easy to monitor as it uses the Global Positioning System (GPS),” said Dr Ochwada.

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Other than the “tiny target” gadget, Ochwada said they also have another equipment with sticky panels used to monitor the population tsetse flies.

He said they chose Olkinyei Conservancy after its management complained tsetse flies were affecting tourists and pastoralists in the neighbouring communities, who ended up incurring heavy losses after death of their livestock.

Mr Simon Nkoitoi, a senior warden at the conservancy, said tsetse flies are a threat to tourism. “However, since the introduction of over 200 ‘tiny target’ gadgets a fortnight ago, the number of flies have reduced drastically,” said Nkoitoi.

The agency’s deputy CEO Seth Onyango said: “To effectively fight this fly, we required Sh1.2 billion annually as per our 2011-2021 plan.”

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