Survey of gastrointestinal parasite infection in African lion (Panthera leo), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and spotted hyaena (Crocuta crocuta) in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia
Little is known about gastrointestinal parasite infections in large carnivores in Africa and what is available is largely from East Africa. We collected faecal samples from nine spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta), 15 lions (Panthera leo) and 13 African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) from Luangwa Valley, Zambia. The most common gastrointestinal parasites found were Isospora spp., Spirometra sp., Taeniidae and Sarcosystis spp. Twenty-eight percent of all samples were co-infected with Spirometra sp. and Taeniidae, with co-infection rates highest among lions (67%). Thirty-three per cent (3/9) of spotted hyaenas were infected with Isospora sp. Ninety-two per cent (12/13) of wild dog were infected with Sarcocystis, similar to results from studies in South Africa. One lion was infected with a parasite whose morphology suggested Strongyloides sp., not previously been reported in lions. Samples from one lion and two spotted hyaenas yielded no gastrointestinal parasites. Overall, parasite species were consistent with those found from studies in other regions of Africa and are likely a result of ingesting infected prey. To our knowledge this study provides the most comprehensive survey of gastrointestinal parasite infection in large carnivores from this region of Africa to date and provides baseline data for future studies.