The impact of tsetse fly in Ngamiland, 1916-1955

As the rinderpest epizootic of 1896-1897 swept through Africa and decimated numerous herds of cattle and wildlife, tsetse fly retreated from the Okavango swamps and Ngamiland (in present-day Botswana) generally. Several scholars have shown that as the animals died out, the fly which preyed on them retreated, but its reappearance after 1910 has not received deserving scholarly attention. This paper examines the impact of tsetse fly on human settlements, arable and livestock farming as well as general trading activities in Ngamiland. It concludes that the British colonial authorities carried out only defensive and therefore ineffective measures against tsetse fly in Ngamiland. As a consequence, bush, game and tsetse fly expanded dramatically and reduced both pasture and cultivable areas. The paper demonstrates that Batawana moved their livestock into tsetse fly-free Ghanzi and imported donkeys from South West Africa for draught purposes. However, game hunting, bush-clearing and game fencing failed to hold back the expansion of tsetse fly belts. Not surprisingly, when postwar plans for cattle ranching and large-scale agricultural schemes collapsed British authorities deglected land reclamation in Ngamiland. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]

Title: The impact of tsetse fly in Ngamiland, 1916-1955
Author: Molefi, Rodgers K.K.
Year: 2008
Periodical: Botswana Notes and Records (ISSN 0525-5090)
Volume: 40
Pages: 35-45
Language: English
Geographic term: Botswana
Abstract: As the rinderpest epizootic of 1896-1897 swept through Africa and decimated numerous herds of cattle and wildlife, tsetse fly retreated from the Okavango swamps and Ngamiland (in present-day Botswana) generally. Several scholars have shown that as the animals died out, the fly which preyed on them retreated, but its reappearance after 1910 has not received deserving scholarly attention. This paper examines the impact of tsetse fly on human settlements, arable and livestock farming as well as general trading activities in Ngamiland. It concludes that the British colonial authorities carried out only defensive and therefore ineffective measures against tsetse fly in Ngamiland. As a consequence, bush, game and tsetse fly expanded dramatically and reduced both pasture and cultivable areas. The paper demonstrates that Batawana moved their livestock into tsetse fly-free Ghanzi and imported donkeys from South West Africa for draught purposes. However, game hunting, bush-clearing and game fencing failed to hold back the expansion of tsetse fly belts. Not surprisingly, when postwar plans for cattle ranching and large-scale agricultural schemes collapsed British authorities deglected land reclamation in Ngamiland. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]