Occurrence and seasonality of internal parasite infection in elephants, Loxodonta africana, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Lydia Baines, Eric R. Morgan*, Mphoeng Ofthile, Kate Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


It is known from studies in a wide range of wild and domestic animals, including elephants, that parasites can affect growth, reproduction and health. A total of 458 faecal samples from wild elephants were analysed using a combination of flotation and sedimentation methods. Coccidian oocysts (prevalence 51%), and nematode (77%) and trematode (24%) eggs were found. Species were not identified, though trematode egg morphology was consistent with that of the intestinal fluke Protofasciola robusta. The following factors were found to have a significant effect on parasite infection: month, year, sex, age, and group size and composition. There was some evidence of peak transmission of coccidia and nematodes during the rainy season, confirmed for coccidia in a parallel study of seven sympatric domesticated elephants over a three month period. Nematode eggs were more common in larger groups and nematode egg counts were significantly higher in elephants living in maternal groups (mean 1116 eggs per gram, standard deviation, sd 685) than in all-male groups (529, sd 468). Fluke egg prevalence increased with increasing elephant age. Preservation of samples in formalin progressively decreased the probability of detecting all types of parasite over a storage time of 1-15 months. Possible reasons for associations between other factors and infection levels are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Issue number1
Early online date29 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2015


  • Africa
  • Coccidia
  • Elephant
  • Epidemiology
  • Nematode
  • Transmission
  • Trematode
  • Wetland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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