KAP studies are vital in identifying knowledge gaps, cultural beliefs and behavior patterns that may categorize needs, problems and barriers to help plan and implement interventions in communities. The results from such studies propose intervention strategy that reflect specific local circumstances, the underlying cultural beliefs that influence them, plan activities that are suited to the respective population.
From our study it is clearly evident that majority of farmers in Buliisa district (96.8%) had ever seen tsetse flies and about (91.7%) had ever heard about bovine trypanosomosis into their area with no significant difference (P = 0.610) among the study sub counties .These revelations indicated the magnitude of bovine trypanosomosis burden was a major constraint within the pastoral communities around MFNP to cattle productivity. The high proportions of study participants who had ever seen tsetse and had ever heard about bovine trypanosomosis were similar to findings of from a study from Eastern Uganda by (Magona et al., 2004) in Tororo and Busia. The location of Buliisa in the cattle corridor, vegetation type, bordering a national park and water body and hosting a wildlife reserve are plausible reasons for the presence of tsetse flies which enhance trypanosomosis being a major cattle disease in this area. Wild animals especially wild ruminants, elephants and wild suids act as maintenance hosts of Glossina species, the anthropod vector that transmit trypanosomosis (Bengis et al., 2002) which accentuates the population of tsetse flies. Seasonal changes influence the living conditions of different tsetse fly species. The Palpalis and Fusca tsetse fly species survive well in moist conditions surrounded by woody vegetation while the moristan species thrive well in hot, dry conditions and during wet season they migrate into savanna woodland. In the dry season moristan species the live in vegetation near water bodies. Furthermore, seasonal change modifies the relative humidity, vegetation, temperature, light radiance which influence the development and multiplication of the tsetse flies.(Sow, 2013). Farmers grazing near the national parks (60.5%) and animals sharing grazing land and watering points (19.1%) were reported as the main causes of bovine trypanosomosis in Buliisa district. Contrary to this finding, a study in Kenya (Machila et al., 2003) found that 44.1% of the respondents reported that tsetse flies were the main cause of trypanosomosis and 54% of the respondents did not know the cause of trypanosomosis
There was highly significant difference in knowledge about the causes of trypanosomosis (P = 0.004) across the study sub counties. The difference can be attributed to the difference in persistence and magnitude of prevalence of the disease in different geographical locations and proximity to the national park. In geographical locations close to national parks, farmers can easily associated prevalence of trypanosomosis to grazing animals near national parks. (Mechtilda et al., 2016). The responses on the causes of trypanosomosis suggested by the participants are in agreement with the acceptable scientific cause of the disease. This finding suggests that farmers in Buliisa district seem to be highly knowledgeable about the causes and risk factors of trypanosomosis which enables the pastoral communities and their cattle herds to be resilient and survive in that environment. A study in Nwoya, a district neighboring the same high risk protected area found a prevalence rate of 41% (Angwech et al., 2015) which is likely to be the same case in Buliisa district. It is therefore necessary to determine the prevalence of bovine trypanosomosis and evaluate if the high knowledge of cattle farmers in Bullisa district on the scientific cause of trypanosomosis can be attributed to the disease prevalence.
The participants’ knowledge on how trypanosomosis is transmitted in their herds ranged from animals being fed on by tsetse flies (31.2%), animals grazing in areas infested with tsetse flies (30.6%) to animals being fed on by tsetse flies carrying the pathogen (29.9%) in proportionate proportions. There is almost equal proportion of the participants who are able to tell the difference between transmission of trypanosomosis by only tsetse bites and by tsetse flies bites carrying the disease pathogens. Knowledge on transmission of trypanosomosis differed highly significantly (P = 0.003) among the study sub counties where all stated transmission routes are scientifically correct. Such results reflect the level of accuracy of some livestock farmers in the study area in correctly knowing how the disease in transmitted in their herds. This finding is contrary to a study in Ethiopia by (Chanie et al., 2013) that revealed 80% of the respondents thought bovine trypanosomosis was caused and transmitted via the environment.
The major signs of trypanosomosis identified by farmers differed significantly (P = 0.001) across the study counties. The clinical signs identified by the farmers focused mainly on the impaired animals’ physiological processes and not on economic losses. Participants however did not link the signs of trypanosomosis to loss in milk production, mortality and other productivity indicators like decreased offtake and reduced calving rate as reported in several studies (Swallow, 2000) (Muhanguzi et al., 2014). The reason for lack of connection between productivity indices and the clinical signs may be attributed to the multiple functions of cattle in pastoral communities which are beyond production of milk and beef. The highly significant difference among the sub counties in interpreting disease signs could be attributed to the fact that farmers could at least associate one peculiar sign to presence of the disease in their herds.
The ability and precision to identify these visual signs depend on the experience of the farmers. Although there are other diseases that can present similar signs like trypanosomosis but with long periods of practice, farmers have developed comparable understanding of the important signs of the disease in their herds. (Ayenalem et al., 2017). The correct knowledge of pastoral communities on the signs and symptoms of trypanosomosis could also have contributed to some farmers starting to crossbreed their local indigenous cattle and keeping high productive and highly susceptible crossbred cattle
The control practices of trypanosomosis carried out focused mainly on control tsetse flies getting into contact with animals and highly significantly differed (P = 0.001) the study sub counties. The control practices that target controlling the tsetse flies in their habitat (bush clearing and traps) were less practiced by the farmers. There are several control strategies of the trypanosomosis in Uganda including strategies targeting the disease vector, stationary baits, mobile baits (insecticide treated cattle) and aerial spraying. The success of these strategies, their technical efficiency and the affordability by the farmers is at different stages at both farm and community level. (Muhanguzi et al., 2015). Farmers in choosing from the available control options are driven by the cost and usually the insecticide treated cattle option seems widely used in Uganda (Waiswa & Wangoola, 2018) and cheapest as stated in a study by (Shaw et al., 2013) who costed tsetse control options per KM2 as US$ 285 using traps, US$ 30 using insecticide treated cattle, US$ 380 using sequential aerial technique and US$ 758 using sterile insect technique. The insecticide treated cattle strategy is a widely used approach by farmers probably because of the dual benefits of controlling tsetse and ticks, the vectors for trypanosomosis and tick borne diseases respectively. These findings are in contrast from a study in Tanzania by (Mwaseba & Kigoda, 2017b) which found that dipping was the major control method of trypanosomosis. Avoiding grazing cattle in risky areas can be rather a challenging strategy in pastoral setting especially where the land tenure system is communal. In the dry spell, pastures and watering points are limited thereby forcing herders to graze and water their animals in the same location shared by wildlife. During dry season tsetse flies especially the moristans species live in vegetation close to water points targeting both domestic and wild ruminants for blood meals (Hargrove, 2004).
A small proportion of cattle farmers (6.6%) reported using insecticide impregnated traps and targets and bush clearing (16.5%) as control practices of the tsetse vector. The tsetse population changes in time and space therefore cannot not effectively be monitored and disease management strategy based on tsetse population is difficult to implement.
The over dependence of farmers on using insecticide treated cattle as a major control strategy of bovine trypanosomosis could be attributable to a breakdown of the livestock extension and entomology community intervention programs that control the vector (tsetse) population that transmits the disease.
The most common treatment method of trypanosomosis is using curative trypanocides (68.8%) and followed by use of preventive trypanocides (15.9%) with a significant difference (P = 0.023) across the study sub counties Although both curative and prophylactic trypanocides are effective in treating and controlling trypanosomosis respectively, the choice to use curative trypanocides to treat suspected infected cattle can be attributed to the fact that fatality cases from trypanosomosis are not immediate. In addition, using prophylactic trypanocides can be expensive to the farmers since it involves treating the entire average herd of about 34 animals. Treating only suspected sick animals that have shown signs of the disease is a cheaper option in the shorter term for farmers.
The farmers’ decision to administer treatment to their cattle was based on observation of clinical signs. A highly significant difference (P = 0.001) was observed among the study sub counties on information based on before administering treatment. The difference could be a result of the years of experience in cattle keeping and herd sizes. In smaller herd sizes farmers can easily use clinical signs correctly compared to in larger herd sizes. The longer the experience in cattle keeping the higher the chances to use clinical signs correctly as these are among the many factors that can contribute to control or persistence of animal trypanosomosis in a community as evidenced by (Wangoola et al., 2019) in a recent study covering Lango sub region of Uganda. The practice of using clinical signs before treatment further suggests that many seemingly healthy animals are left untreated. Without proper diagnosis of animals, it may result in treating wrong disease condition since there are other diseases that can present similar signs like bovine trypanosomosis such as East Coast Fever and Helminthiasis. The use of clinical signs may be attributed to lack of animal diagnostic facilities leading to failure in getting results in real time by farmers, the costs and expertise involved in collecting the blood samples from the animals and the long distances from the study area to places where laboratory services can be found. In addition, although rapid diagnostic tool (Very-Diag manufactured by Ceva Sante Animale Libourne France) is available, the tool is still not widely used by livestock farmers probably due to cost or unavailability of the technology in the study area. The practice of administering treatment of cattle against trypanosomosis without proper diagnosis can lead to misuse and abuse of trypanocides and cause resistance of trypanosome against the drug.