Zika Forest along Entebbe Road
Zika forest is found on Entebbe road, 25 km from Kampala city. It’s among the nature attractions in Uganda. The forest, off Kampala – Entebbe Airport highway is an attraction to most tourists going for or coming from some Uganda safaris and tours. It is believed that the Zika Virus originated here. The virus was first learnt about in monkeys from this forest. The Zika virus is believed to have a link to Microcephaly (a birth defect where a baby’s head is much smaller than normal matched to infants of the same age and sex). Zika forest, a property of the Uganda Virus Research Institute of Entebbe (UVRI), is protected and restricted to scientific research. The research institute also maintains an insectarium at the forest. Zika means ‘overgrown’ in the Luganda language, a name that represents thick vegetation. Zika forest, one of the forests in Uganda has a wealth of biodiversity in plants and moths, and is home to about 40 types of mosquitoes.
About Zika Forest
Zika Forest has got a diversity of swamps full of crocodiles, grasslands plus trees that spread to Lake Victoria. The jungle has over 140 types of tree species, 35 saturniid, 60 moths, snakes, mosquitoes and monkeys among others. You need to visit the forest while on your Uganda safaris.
Mosquito Studies at the forest
Investigations of mosquitoes at the jungle started in 1946 as part of the study of human yellow fever at the Yellow Fever Research Institute (renamed East African Virus Research Institute in 1950 and then in 1977 the Uganda Virus Research Institute established in Entebbe, Uganda in 1936 by the Rockefeller Foundation. In the year 1947, the Zika virus was isolated from a rhesus monkey stationed at Zika. In 1960, a 36.6-metre (120-feet) steel tower was moved from Mpanga Forest to Zika to study the vertical distribution of mosquitoes, facilitating for a comprehensive study of the mosquito population in 1964. In that same year, the Zika virus was identified from a collected Aedes Africanus sample. No routine mosquito collections were done for about the next 40 years, while human activities encroached on the forest. An updated mosquito collection eventually happened in 2009 and 2010.