In the UK, you have seagulls, pigeons and the ever dangerous fox, in Tanzania I’ve already recounted a few stories of Black Kites swooping down, so wanted to focus on a couple of other pests prominent in our lives:
1) Marabou Storks (Leptoptilos crumeniferus): These beasts of a bird are what I class as Tanzania’s seagulls. They live on or around the local rubbish dumps found at numerous parts of the city, feasting on rubbish from local markets or whatever else they can find. Think of a bird standing around 1 metre in height, ugly features and most likely smelly and dirty having been rummaging through garbage! To confound their ugliness (obviously subjective but I am yet to find someone who disagrees) is the pink gular sack on its neck. This seems to just hang down, get dirty and swing around, I assume it has some significance in mating.
Despite never being attacked by a Marabou Stork, I always feel they have the potential to go for you and to cause serious damage, perhaps if you went for the piece of rubbish they wanted! Not a problem for myself but for those street involved adults that rummage through the freshly delivered market rubbish it can be quite a battle between themselves and the Marabou Storks.
Their take off is another thing to behold, a little like a hang glider or aeroplane. Slowly running forward enough to get enough momentum to get their gangly and large bodies off the ground. When in the air however, I regularly see them soaring a few thousand feet in the air.
I can easily see how Irene Walsh was able to write the book Marabou Stork Nightmares!
2) Ticks (including Ixodes ricinus I think) Our compound dog, Macy has been suffering lots from ticks recently. I do sympathise for her, having ticks biting her and sucking her blood in their parasitic manner! Naomi and I have made it our mission to check her as often as possible and remove as many as we can find. They are intriguing creatures, especially the larger engorged ones who have managed to stay on Macy for a while and are full of blood.
We make it our mission to tweezer as many of them off as possible, take them outside and crush/pop them with a football boot! This again can be satisfying as the engorged ones pop nicely and squirt out all the blood they have sucked out of their host, they just seem to deflate! We now have a tick graveyard just outside our front door where we have taken them out to be destroyed!
3) Mosquitoes (particularly Anopholes spp.) – Thankful to report that we are both still yet to suffer from malaria during our time here, despite many itches from bites!
Others living in Mwanza/Tanzania….have I missed any obvious ones!?