Malaria: Setting the record straight
created 2011-05-26 10:51:06

I would like to set the record straight with regards to the malaria "situation" in our area, the Timbavati which is part of Greater Kruger National Park.

In the game lodge industry, competition can be stiff. Marketing of certain venues can be based on the idea of "unselling" more authentic wilderness areas where malaria occurs. "Malaria free" is a marketing catch phrase often used.

The tourists choices becomes much smaller if they base their choice of destination on the presence or absence of malaria.

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve takes steps to prevent the occurrence of malaria within the reserve and every effort is being made to greatly reduce the incidence of the illness. Its eradication being the ultimate aim.

Together with the Department of Health we regularly screen our staff and local visitors for the malaria parasite.

For a mosquito to carry malaria it has to bite a person already infected with the parasite, it can then become a carrier of malaria and possibly transmit the parasite to another person/host if it bites them.

If locals and staff are tested regularly and treated immediately and if the parasite is picked up it is possible to ensure that there are no carriers in the area and thus the incidence of malaria can be drastically reduced. Rooms are sprayed and open water (possible mosquito breeding sites) are treated to reduce the mosquito populations.

This strategy has proved to be successful.

I have been operating a game lodge in this area for 16 years. Up to 3000 visitors pass through our accommodation annually.

If eight of the total guests got malaria while visiting our lodge over the 16-year period, it would mean a 0.016 chance of getting malaria, or 1 in 6000 people visiting our lodge could get malaria?

I only know of 6 people over 16 years.

Our area is classified as a medium risk area by the Department of Health.

Considering this, would you deny yourself the opportunity to experience our authentic wilderness area of more than 3 million hectares of transfrontier national park?

Miss the chance of seeing breeding herds of elephant, herds of buffalo 400 strong, rhino, prides of lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe and much, much more?

Perhaps not!!

Marco Schiess
Umlani Bushcamp
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