Distribution patterns of gastrointestinal parasites in vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) at Gombe national park, Tanzania
Vervet monkeys at Gombe National Park in western Tanzania constitute a key component of the park’s ecosystem through interactions with other animals and people in the area. However, the parasite fauna of these animals has not been investigated. Thus, 21 faecal samples obtained from the animals in September 2010 were examined for parasites using formol-ethyl technique. The parasites observed included Trichuris spp., Physaloptera spp., hookworms and unidentified nematodes. While egg counts for unidentified nematodes did not vary with vervet monkey communities (z = 0.759, p = 0.448), other parasites were significantly higher among vervets at north of the park near Mwamgongo village compared to those at southern park border close to Mtanga village (Trichuris spp.: z = 2.443, p = 0.0146; Hookworms: z = 2.084, p = 0.0371). This is the first baseline study on vervet monkey parasites at Gombe and it broadens our understanding of the animals’ ecology and health. The observed parasites namely Trichuris and hookworms are also common in human populations in the area, and this suggests a potential health risk given the existing animal-human interactions. This stresses the need to better understand how these findings may relate to wildlife conservation and public health in the area
Key words: Vervet monkeys, Gombe ecosystem, parasites
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