Tsetse fly control

Control of sleeping sickness to protect livestock


The tsetse fly transmits sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) to both humans and animals. The disease weakens livestock to such an extent that the animals can no longer work in the fields; they produce less milk and meat and some even die. Biovision is supporting efforts to combat the tsetse fly using an ecological “Push-Pull” approach: The animals wear a collar containing a strong-smelling serum taken from waterbucks. This repels the flies whilst coloured traps laced with an attractant lure the flies and they then die in the traps. The project deliberately involves schools and local villagers to ensure that measures remain anchored in local communities in the longer term.

The project is located on the edge of the Shimba Hills National Park in Kubo South Ward, part of Kwale County in South East Kenya. The Shimba Hills National Park is a wildlife reserve but it is also a refuge for insects such as the tsetse fly, which can reproduce unimpeded and transmit diseases.

The tsetse flies are caught in coloured odour traps. The blue colour and smell from the cattle urine attract the flies.


Most of the inhabitants in Kubo South Ward (some 25,000 people) are arable and livestock farmers. The region has sufficient rainfall and fertile soils and so it has significant agricultural potential but “nagana”, the sleeping sickness affecting animals is preventing farmers from fully exploiting this potential. Every year the disease causes economic losses valued at USD 4.5 billion in East Africa.


Some 1,500 people will benefit directly from the project. This includes 65 villagers who have shown particular commitment and who are trained in the use of the traps and collars.

The entire rural population of Kubo South Ward (25,000 people) will benefit indirectly from the measures to control the tsetse fly and the resultant reduction in the incidence of animal sleeping sickness.

Objectives of current project phase

The project seeks to reduce the incidence of sleeping sickness in livestock in the project region by half. This will increase productivity and should allow 50% more land to be cultivated. In addition, milk output should rise by a similar figure. Data from a recently published study show that such increases are realistic.


The first phase of this project started on 1 January 2018. Some ten years ago, Biovision and its partner icipe, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology based in Nairobi completed tsetse fly projects in Kenya and Ethiopia. Since then, the technology has developed further and the collars added to the range of measures.  


An integral part of the project is the preparatory work required to ensure that farming families involved in the project remain committed in the longer term. Maintenance of the traps and monitoring of the tsetse fly population by local communities is crucial to the sustainable success of the project. The recently developed collars have huge potential because they are inexpensive, easy to use and made locally.