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1 October 2011 Gastrointestinal Parasites and Associated Pathological Lesions in Starving Free-Ranging African Elephants
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Past events of drought in different ecosystems in Kenya have been linked to mass deaths of elephants (Loxodonta africana). However, it is possible that other factors such as parasitism could be acting in synergy with drought and result in mortality. During the severe drought of 2009 in the Laikipia-Samburu ecosystem in Kenya, 38 young elephants (5–8 years old) died. Necropsy of 11 fresh elephant carcasses revealed pathological lesions on the intestinal mucosa and haemorrhages which were linked to parasitism. A nematode, Grammocephalus clathratus, from the bile duct, a trematode, Protofasciola robusta, from the duodenum and a complex of unidentified nematodes from the lower gut were isolated from the elephants. The carcasses were overly emaciated and the intestinal system was devoid of digesta. It is likely that starvation and dehydration could have triggered a vicious cycle of host malnourishment, a result of combined inadequate food and nutritional deprivation by intestinal parasites which lead to emaciation, pathology and death.

V. Obanda, T. Iwaki, N.M. Mutinda, and F. Gakuya "Gastrointestinal Parasites and Associated Pathological Lesions in Starving Free-Ranging African Elephants," South African Journal of Wildlife Research 41(2), 167-172, (1 October 2011).
Received: 16 April 2010; Accepted: 1 January 2011; Published: 1 October 2011

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