Gastrointestinal parasites infesting grevy’s zebra (equus grevyi) in the Samburu landscape in Samburu County
Mwatenga, Matano S.
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The Grevy zebra (Equus grevy’s), also known as the imperial zebra is the largest wild equid of the three species of zebras. The other two are the plain zebras (Equus quagga) and the mountain zebras (Equus zebra harmannae). It belongs to the class mammalia, order perissodactyla and its family is Equidae. Among the three, it is also rated as the most threatened species. Grevy zebras have narrow black and white striping patterns. A mature one stands between 1.5 to 1.6 metres in height and weighs between 350 to 450 kilograms. The population size of Grevy’s zebra has been declining drastically despite conservation efforts, such as the hunting ban by the Kenyan government in 1977. However, the role of disease causing parasites has not been adequately addressed. This study was conducted with the aim of identifying the various types of gastro-intestinal (GIT) parasites in Grevy’s Zebras in the Samburu landscape of the Samburu County in the Northern Kenya. It also targeted to determine parasitic infestation levels within the different age categories and sex of the animals. Age determination was done through observation of their height, body coloration and mane length at their back. This study was conducted between July and December 2010. Fresh dung samples were collected from the field and observed for parasites in the laboratory using a light microscope. Parasites were identified by use of qualitative methods including direct saline preparation, formolether sedimentation technique and Haranda Mori Culture techniques. Quantitative method that uses Cornell-McMaster dilution egg counting technique was used to determine the parasite infestation level in each faecal sample. In total, nine (9) types of parasites were identified from a total of 207 faecal samples that were analyzed. This included both the helminnthic and the protozoan type. The protozoan type recovered included, the Eimeria leuckarti (15%), Entamoeba equi (13%), Balantidium coli (1.0%) and Giardia intestinalis. (1.0%) while the helminthic type included Strongylus vulgaris (98.1%), Strongyloide westeri (55.6%), Trichonema sp (5.8%), Parascaris equorium (5.3%), and Trichuris trichiura (0.5%). All the samples (100%) were found to harbour single or mixed type of helminthes and protozoan parasites. Strongylus vulgaris had the highest occurrence while the lowest was recorded by Trichuris trichiura in the helminthic group while in the protozoan type, the highest was Eimeria leuckarti while the lowest was Giardia intestinalis. KruskalWallis Test was used to compare infestation levels within the three zebra age categories. The age categories included the foals, the juveniles and the adult. The test revealed that there was a significant difference in the number of parasites in the three age categories (H = 6.522, P < 0.05). The parasitic infestation level was higher in adult grevy zebras than in foals and juveniles. Analysis using Mann- Whitney test was used to determine infestation levels between males and females. This test showed that there was no significant difference in infections between males and females (U (16) = 40, P > 0.05). In order to prevent the spread of gastro-intestinal parasites, the contamination of pasture land should be prevented by treating the hosts with antihelminthics. In this regard, the Samburu pastoralists should be encouraged to use antihelminthics to treat their animals since they share similar habitat with the Grevy zebras and this will reduce cases of cross transmission of the parasites. The government or non-profitable development agencies should include Grevy zebras in their priority lists of research and develop sustainable integrated diseases prevention and control programs that are practical for developing communities.
- MST-Zoological Sciences