Letter: Time to protect the tsetse fly

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Sir: Nicholas Schoon's thought-provoking article ("When it is right to destroy nature", 15 May) about why the survival of the unloved nail fungus is as important as the "charismatic" otter had me nodding in quiet agreement until he hit a raw nerve by suggesting it was fine to extinguish species like the tsetse fly because they cause disease in humans.

The tsetse fly exposes the appalling dilemma conservationists often find themselves in. Tsetse flies cause sleeping sickness in cattle and humans, and as a result are a great friend of wildlife. If you go by air over the Okavango delta in Botswana, you can see an astonishingly clear line separating the tsetse areas - where wildlife, immune to sleeping sickness, thrives - from the tsetse eradication zones where cattle and humans have moved in and there is not an antelope or buffalo in sight.


Director General


London SW1