Prevalence of intestinal parasites among captive Asian Elephants Elephas maximus: effect of season, host demography, and management systems in Tamil Nadu, India

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V. Vanitha
K. Thiyagesan
N. Baskaran

Abstract

Maintenance of wild animals in captivity is fraught with numerous challenges, including the control of disease. This study evaluates the effect of season, host demography (age-sex), and differing management systems on the prevalence of intestinal parasites among elephants managed in three captive systems: temple, private, and forest department, in Tamil Nadu. In addition, the study also assessed the availability of veterinary care for elephants in these systems. The parasitic prevalence was evaluated by direct microscopic identification of helminth eggs in faecal samples (n = 115) collected from different age/sex classes of elephants. Of the 115 elephants examined, 37% showed positive results, being infected only with Strongyles sp. The prevalence rate varied significantly across seasons, with the highest rate during summer (49%) followed by monsoon (41%) and the lowest rate during winter (15%). While males had a significantly lower parasite prevalence compared to females (29% vs. 40%), age classes showed no significant difference. Despite the fact that the proportion of animals receiving veterinary care was higher under the forest department system (100%) compared to the private system (26%), parasite prevalence was significantly higher under the former (48%) than the latter (31%) system. The difference in the proportion of animals with parasitic prevalence among the three systems could be due to differing management practices (i.e. in solitary versus groups) and the details are discussed.

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How to Cite
[1]
Vanitha, V., Thiyagesan, K. and Baskaran, N. 2011. Prevalence of intestinal parasites among captive Asian Elephants Elephas maximus: effect of season, host demography, and management systems in Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 3, 2 (Feb. 2011), 1535–1541. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2488.1527-34.
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Short Communications
Author Biographies

V. Vanitha

Dr. V. Vanitha is presently an assistant professor in zoology. She obtained her PhD in 2008 for the study on Status and management of captive Asian Elephants in Tamil Nadu, India from Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli.

K. Thiyagesan

Dr. K. Thiyagesan is an associate professor, working on ornithology and is the research adviser to number of PhD students.

N. Baskaran

Dr. N. Baskaran is a scientist at the Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre, working on wild Asian Elephants across Eastern, and Western Ghats and Eastern Himalaya for more than two decades. His research interest includes behavioural ecology of various mammalian fauna, and assessment of population, habitats, biodiversity and impact of development activities.

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