First record of tapeworm Moniezia (Cestoda: Anoplocephalidae) infections in Leopards: Coprological survey of gastrointestinal parasites of wild and captive cats in Sri Lanka

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Vishvapali Kobbekaduwa
Caroline Fillieux
Ashan Thududgala
R.P.V. Jayantha Rajapakse
Rupika Subashini Rajakaruna


Sri Lanka is home to four species of wildcats: Leopard, Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat and Jungle Cat.  All four, except the Jungle Cat, are listed threatened.  A coprological survey was carried out in 2014 to determine the gastrointestinal (GI) parasites of wild and captive cats in Sri Lanka.  Parasite eggs and cysts were isolated and morphologically identified using iodine smears and a modified salt flotation.  The intensity of infection was quantified using a McMaster counting technique.  A total of 45 fecal samples were analyzed.  Except for the six captive Rusty-spotted Cats, all cats were infected with one or more GI parasites.  The presence of Moniezia sp. in Leopards in the Horton Plains National Park with an intensity of 150–1850 EPG (eggs per gram of feces) was unexpected.  Moniezia is a common GI parasite of ruminants and before our study it had never been recorded in Leopards.  Cross species infection with Moniezia could be possible due to accidental ingestion of cysticercoid infected oribatid mites, the intermediate host which could have been picked up in the pasture while feeding on carcasses.  Among the other parasitic infections in Leopards Toxocara was most common (61.9%) followed by strongyle infections (15.4%).  Of the fecal samples collected from wild Leopards 80.0% were infected with GI parasites while no GI parasites were found in the captive Leopard samples.  The Jungle Cats and the Rusty-spotted Cats sampled were in captivity and only the Jungle Cats were infected with strongyles.  Toxocara was recorded in Leopards and Fishing Cat both in captivity and in the wild.  It is a common GI infection of cats causing morbidity in all age groups and mortality in young animals.  Although parasitic infections of cats may not be a direct reason for a species’ decline, parasitic infections spreading within a small fragmented population could reduce the vitality and numbers and threaten the population further.  This is the first report of GI parasites of wildcats of Sri Lanka and the first record of Moniezia infections in Leopards.

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Kobbekaduwa, V., Fillieux, C., Thududgala, A., Rajapakse, R.J. and Rajakaruna, R.S. 2017. First record of tapeworm Moniezia (Cestoda: Anoplocephalidae) infections in Leopards: Coprological survey of gastrointestinal parasites of wild and captive cats in Sri Lanka. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 9, 3 (Mar. 2017), 9956–9961. DOI:
Author Biographies

Vishvapali Kobbekaduwa, Department of Zoology, University of Peradeniya, Galaha Road, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka

Vishvapali Kobbekaduwa graduated from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka with honours in Zoology. She is currently a PhD student attached to the Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology program at the Michigan State University, USA. She is studying the disease system of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, concentrating on the eco-epidemiology of the disease.  

Caroline Fillieux, École Nationale Vétérinaire, Chemin des Capelles BP 87614, 31076 Toulouse Cedex, France

Caroline Fillieux is a veterinary intern at the École Nationale Vétérinaire, France. She intends to become a wildlife veterinarian specializing in wildcats. She is currently carrying our research in the Wildlife Conservation Society in Cambodia. 

Ashan Thududgala, Department of Zoology, University of Peradeniya, Galaha Road, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka

 Ashan Thudugala received his BSc from the Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and is currently reading for an MPhil at Postgraduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya. He is a small wildcat specialist, monitoring the population size and home ranges of Fishing Cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Minneriya and Kaudlla National Parks in Sri Lanka. 

R.P.V. Jayantha Rajapakse, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

R.P.V.J. Rajapakse graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He is currently a Senior Professor of Veterinary Parasitology at the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, University of Peradeniya. He has done extensive studies on gastrointestinal parasites of various wild, captive and domesticated animals.  

Rupika Subashini Rajakaruna, Department of Zoology, University of Peradeniya, Galaha Road, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka

Rupika S. Rajakaruna received her BSc (Hons.) and MPhil degrees in Zoology from the University of Peradeniya and completed her Ph.D. at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.  She currently holds the Chair of Professor of Applied Zoology at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.  She has collaborated with many scientists on publications pertaining to a wide range of fields including parasitology, sea turtle biology and conservation, and frog disease ecology.


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