Zebra-Scented Collars On Cattle Prevent Sleeping Sickness - Impacts On Land Use Are Good & Bad

zebra face photo

Tanzanian Zebra. Image credit:National Geographic, excerpted.

Researchers at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology have developed a zebra-smelling cattle collar which will be tested on Masai herds subject to the biting tsetse fly, and hence prone to catching sleeping sickness -- "up to three million cattle die each year from the disease." SciDevNet reports that there could be conservation benefits if the collar is found to be cost effective. (A majority of the land in Africa is tilled using the animal-drawn plow; when these animals are well, less of the land need be grazed and cultivated for a given cumulative food yield.)

Power of biomimicry cuts both ways.
The obvious conservation downside would be that strongly tsetse-infected lands, formerly off limits to the oxen-pulled plow, will be subject to cultivation and grazing. So less habitat for Zebras!


Tsetse fly, sp. unspecified (T.rhodesiense, T.brucei, T .congolense, T.vivax.) Image credit:Parasitology course, Trypanosomes infecting man and animals.

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