Tourism is one of the driving forces of economic and social development in Africa. It attracts investment, creates jobs and diversifies household incomes sources. In Zanzibar, the tourism industry is the third-largest economic sector. However, the experience of tourists visiting Zanzibar is negatively affected by mosquito bites and the fear of being infected by life-threatening mosquito-transmitted diseases.
A new study by an international team including PhD Entomology student Ayubo Kampango and Prof Chris Weldon in UP’s Department of Zoology and Entomology aims to address this problem. In a recently published article in Medical and Veterinary Entomology, the study shows that hotels can address the problem by implementing simple measures that target mosquito breeding sites.
According to Ayubo Kampango, the researchers needed to establish which mosquito species were present in hotel compounds on Zanzibar Island and why they were there. “They sampled mosquito immatures stages (larvae and pupae) from four hotel compounds. Mosquito immature stages live in water; therefore, we sampled all available water-holding containers such as outdoor bathtubs, plant pots, plastic containers, wells, drainages, used tyres, tree holes, fruit and animal shells, food and soda cans. Across the four hotels were recorded 23 698 mosquitoes representing 26 species, including known dengue vectors, yellow fever, zika, Rift Valley fever and chikungunya virus. Plastic containers, mainly water bottles, were the most dominant type of mosquito breeding sites.”
“Inspired by ecological interaction network tools, we simulated the responses of local mosquito populations to three realistic approaches for elimination of mosquito breeding sites. The first strategy comprised random removal of breeding sites. The second strategy comprised the removal of the most common breeding sites. The last method comprises systematic removal of breeding sites used by most mosquito species. We found that with the last strategy, it would be necessary to eliminate fewer than 50% of all breeding sites to disrupt the mosquito community and achieve rapid extinction of mosquito populations.”
The researchers suggested in their final report that “future environmental mosquito management interventions at hotels on Zanzibar should aim to remove natural and artificial water-holding containers sustaining higher mosquito species diversity. Part of this approach requires better management and removal of solid waste within and around hotel compounds. Successful removal of these sources will mean that your next visit to Zanzibar will be safer and more comfortable with fewer mosquitos to bother you,” Kampango concluded.