Journal of Helminthology

Research Papers

Helminth parasites of the Kafue lechwe antelope (Kobus leche kafuensis): a potential source of infection to domestic animals in the Kafue wetlands of Zambia

A.M. Phiria1 c1, A. Chotaa2, J.B. Mumaa3, M. Munyemea3 and C.S. Sikasungea2

a1 Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zambia, PO Box 32379, Lusaka, Zambia

a2 Department of Para-clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zambia, PO Box 32379, Lusaka, Zambia

a3 Department of Disease Control, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zambia, PO Box 32379, Lusaka, Zambia

Abstract

The Kafue lechwe antelope (Kobus leche kafuensis), a medium-sized, semi-aquatic antelope, grazes extensively on pastures accessed by livestock in and around Lochinvar and Blue Lagoon national parks in the Kafue wetlands of Zambia. This interaction has a potential for bi-modal transmission of a wide range of parasitic helminths between lechwe and domestic ruminants. A survey was conducted to investigate the status of helminths in the Kafue lechwe during the 2008 (July–December) hunting season, involving 65 animals hunted under special research licences. Worm identification was based on morphological features using standard identification keys. Eleven different types of helminths were identified in the animals studied; namely, Oesophagostomum, Bunostomum, Cooperia, Dictyocaulus, Marshallagia, Stilesia, Setaria, Trichuris, Fasciola, amphistomes and Schistosoma. Amphistomes (100%) and Oesophagostomum (60.9%) were the most common while Fasciola (7.8%) and Stilesia (1.6%) were the least of the identified helminths. There was no evidence that helminths, at intensities observed, adversely affected the health of the lechwe. The degree of worm infection was observed to vary between the two study areas, with Blue Lagoon recording higher infection levels compared to Lochinvar. The host range of many of the helminths found in the Kafue lechwe is broad and could serve as a potentially stable source of infection to domestic animals such as goats and cattle. Therefore, issues concerning livestock management and conservation may arise.

(Accepted February 26 2010)

(Online publication April 14 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Fax: +260-211-293727 E-mail: andrew.phiri@unza.zm; amphiri2001@yahoo.co.uk