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Urban and Rural Mosquitoes in Tanzania

 After a month of traveling throughout the eastern portion of Tanzania, I came to a realization about Dar es Salaam that I didn’t have before:  The mosquitoes in Dar are not like the mosquitoes in the rural parts of the country. 

I never wear bug repellent in Dar, and I didn’t even think to bring any with me on a recent business trip to Moshi.  When I arrived in Moshi and tried to sit outside in the evening hours like I typically do in Dar es Salaam, the mosquitoes were relentless in their attack!  I could not figure out the difference in the two areas until I realized that the big birds that I thought were ravens or crows in the city were actually giant bats.  The technical word for these bats is:  Dar es Salaam Pipistrelle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dar-Es-Salaam_Pipistrelle, but you will not find much information on these big winged creatures.  While eating dinner outdoors (as most restaurants have here in Dar), you will frequently see these bats swooping around.  Not to worry, they are not bothering your dinner, only those pesky mosquitoes that typically bother you when you are outside at night.  This is a great thing to have when the sun sets every day around 6pm and most restaurants serve meals outside.  The bats are a bit intimidating when you first see them because they are so LARGE, but the realization that they are keeping you from slathering yourself in Deet is a very positive part of nature. This also helps me realize why malaria is prominent in the rural parts of Tanzania and in the peri-urban areas in of Dar es Salaam, but less in the city itself.  Malaria is a troublesome disease throughout Africa and it is worse in neighboring countries than in Tanzania.  However, any help to ridding the population of the disease would save many lives in all regions of Africa.  http://cdc-malaria.ncsa.uiuc.edu/   There is not a lot of research to show that the bats are contributing to keeping the malaria ridden bugs out of the city, but any bat is hungry for mosquitoes.  You learn this very quickly when you live in a very rural forested area of Michigan.   I watch them frequently now as I find them fascinating and if there was a way to bring them to rural places of the country; it would be an interesting research study as to their effect on the diseases that the mosquitoes play in Tanzania.