Status of gastrointestinal parasites in Red Panda of Nepal

September 30, 2017

Bista, Damber, Shrestha, Saroj, Jnawali, Shant, Acharya, Krishna, Acharya, Sakshi, Kunwar, Ajaya.

PeerJ 5(10).

Septmeber 2017.

Red pandas are known to be highly susceptible to endoparasites, which can have a prominent impact on the population dynamics of this endangered species. There are very limited published reports on prevalence and risk of parasites in wild populations of red panda, especially localized reports. This study attempts to provide an in-depth insight of the status of endoparasites in red pandas, which is critical for strengthening conservation efforts. A total of 272 fecal samples were collected through systematic sampling across the red panda distribution range in Nepal and coprological examination was completed using standard techniques. It was followed by an estimation of prevalence and mean intensity of parasites, as well as statistical analysis, which was carried out using R statistical software. Parasite prevalence was documented in 90.80% (n = 247) out of 272 samples examined which includes seven different species along with three genera of parasites belonging to Protozoans (3 species), Cestodes (1 genus, 1 species) and Nematodes (2 genera, 3 species). Nematodes predominated in all infected samples (87.62%). Prevalence of Ancyclostoma duodenale (n = 227, 70.06%), having a mean intensity of 3.45 ± 2.88 individuals per sample, was observed, followed by Ascaris lumbricoides (n = 19, 5.86%) and Entamoeba histolytica (n = 24, 7.41%). Eight variables for assessing the determinants of infestation were tested: protected areas; non-protected areas; aspect; elevation; slope; and distance to water sources, herding stations, and settlements. Only the settlement displayed significant association (β = −1534e−04, t = − 2.192, p = 0.0293) though each parasite species displayed dissimilar association with different variables. This study indicates the urgent need of improving existing herding practice through habitat zonation, rotational grazing, medication of livestock, and prohibition of open defecation within and around red panda habitat.