Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2010

Capstone Advisor

Dr. Mark Ritchie

Honors Reader

Dr. Ramesh Raina

Capstone Major

Biology

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component

no

Capstone Prize Winner

no

Won Capstone Funding

yes

Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Abstract

Hemoparasites, or parasites of the blood transmitted by arthropod vectors, are commonly found in domestic animals and wildlife all over the world. Although hemoparasites can cause serious illness in domestic species, they often persist at low levels in wildlife without compromising general health. Current reports on wildlife parasitemia, specifically in lions (Panthera leo) are obtained from zoological parks and managed game reserves. However, few studies have examined parasitic burdens of free ranging lion populations. This study aims to semi quantitatively evaluate the presence of four representative hemoparasites including Babesia sp., Theileria sp., Cytauxzoon sp., and Hepatozoon sp in free ranging lions ofSouth Africa. DNA from 38 lions throughout the Kruger National Park, South Africa were analyzed for the presence of these four piroplasms by polymerase chain reaction. Total amplification of hemoparasite DNA was quantified according to a standardized ladder by specialized software. Results were examined for patterns of infection based on age, sex, locality, habitat or land system, and park distribution. Male lions carried higher parasite burdens compared to females at all six localities and in both land systems. Furthermore, trends of infection were not found for age, land system, or distribution within the park. The findings suggest that gender is the only factor that affects disease susceptibility in lions. Control of disease caused by hemoparasites is most concerned with the spread from wildlife to domestic animals. It can be conclude that monitoring parasitic burdens of free ranging lions is an effective strategy for maintaining the health of lion populations and assessing the threat they pose to domestic species. Understanding the factors that contribute to infection is necessary for the enlightened management of hemoparasite propagation in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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