Influence of Diet on the Rumen Protozoal Fauna of Indigenous African Wild Ruminants

A study was carried out to determine if the protozoal fauna of indigenous African wild ruminants was different from that found in their domestic counterparts and if the animal’s diet influenced the number and types of protozoa. Samples of rumen contents were collected in 1997 and 2001 from various indigenous African wild ruminants in Kenya. All three ruminant feeding types were sampled: browsers or concentrate selectors (giraffe and Guenther’s dik-dik); intermediate or adaptable mixed feeders (Impala, Thomson’s gazelle, Grant’s gazelle and eland); grass or roughage eaters (hartebeest and wildebeest). Total concentration of ciliate protozoa and percentage generic distribution were determined. In general, protozoal concentrations were higher in concentrate selectors, followed by the intermediate or opportunistic mixed feeders and lowest in the grass and roughage eaters. Both Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle were protozoa-free in the 2001 samples. Entodinium percentages were considerably higher in concentrate selectors and intermediate mixed feeders, compared to roughage eaters. Two genera of protozoa previously found in only a few African ruminants, Epiplastron and Opisthotrichum, were observed in several additional animal species and represent new host records. A difference was noted in the protozoal species composition of the indigenous wild ruminants from that previously observed in African domestic ruminants.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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