Landform and soil analysis for predicting distribution of plague reservoirs and vectors in Mavumo area, Lushoto district, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


A study was carried out in Mavumo area, West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, to analyse the importance of landform and soil characteristics in predicting the distribution of plague reservoirs and vectors. The main aim was to contribute to information base that would link landscape and ecological factors with the spatial distribution of plague disease in the area so as to provide information to institutions that are dealing with health and land use programmes in Tanzania. Remote sensing and GIS techniques coupled with standard field survey methods were employed to map and analyse the landforms and soils covering an area of 198 km 2 . Rodents (plague reservoirs) were trapped in the field based on the mapped landform-soil characteristics, and fleas (plague vectors) were counted from the rodents. The collected data was analysed statistically using Excel and Minitab softwares. Results showed that piedmont-plain, escarpment and plateau are the major landscapes in the study area from which 20 landform units and 13 dominant soil types were identified. The results demonstrated that the very steep complex slopes of the escarpment and the lower slopes of the high and mid slopes of the medium altitude plateaus neighbouring the plateau valley bottoms where water and food are easily accessible had higher abundance (> 40%) of plague reservoirs and vectors. The study showed that there is significant positive correlation (p < 0.05) between slope gradient and abundance of both plague reservoirs and vectors. Significant positive correlation (p < 0.05) was also observed between plague reservoirs abundance and soil effective depth and copper content. About 99% of the observed variation in the plague reservoirs and vectors occurrence could be explained by their respective models.



Landform, West Usambara mountains, Lushoto district, Soil characteristics, Soil, Plague, Vectors