Research Papers

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Blood platelet counts, morphology and morphometry in lions, Panthera leo

Due to logistical problems in obtaining sufficient blood samples from apparently healthy animals in the wild in order to establish normal haematological reference values, only limited information regarding the blood platelet count and morphology of free-living lions (Panthera leo) is available. This study provides information on platelet counts and describes their morphology with particular reference to size in two normal, healthy and free-ranging lion populations. Blood samples were collected from a total of 16 lions. Platelet counts, determined manually, ranged between 218 and 358 x 109/ℓ. Light microscopy showed mostly activated platelets of various sizes with prominent granules. At the ultrastructural level the platelets revealed typical mammalian platelet morphology. However, morphometric analysis revealed a significant difference (P

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2011 Survey of Lion (Panthera leo) in Yankari Game Reserve and Kainji Lake National Park, Nigeria

The lion population of Yankari Game Reserve and Kainji Lake National Park was surveyed in January-February and May-June 2011 respectively using standard call-up methodology. The 2011 survey was a repeat of the original baseline national lion survey in 2009 (Saidu, 2010). Formerly widespread in Nigeria, lions are now restricted to the core areas of only two protected areas: Kainji Lake National Park and Yankari Game Reserve. The decline of lions in Nigeria appears to be linked to two main factors: the depletion of the natural prey base as a result of poaching, and an increase in human-lion conflict resulting in direct persecution of lions. Human population growth and agricultural expansion is causing an unprecedented influx of nomadic livestock into protected areas, as alternative grazing reserves are largely absent. Human-lion conflict resulting from such incursions is considered to be the major factor responsible for the decline of the lion population in Nigeria. The marked decline of wild ungulate populations in all protected areas is also problematic and in areas where natural prey has been extirpated the remaining lions have little option but to prey on livestock. Retaliatory action taken by herdsmen against these lions is inevitable. In 2009, Kainji Lake National Park and Yankari Game Reserve were estimated to contain a combined total of 44 individual lions (29 in Kainji Lake, and 15 in Yankari), at which time the current status of lions in Nigeria was described as critically endangered. In 2011 the combined lion population of these two sites had declined to an estimated 34 adult lions (32 in Kainji Lake, and 2 in Yankari). Although the estimate for Yankari is acknowledged to be tentative given the limitations of the call-up survey methodology, which lacks precision when applied to very small populations, the suggested dramatic decline of lions in Yankari since 2009 is corroborated by an analysis of CyberTracker data from ranger patrols. Without concerted action the lion population will continue to decline and in time may completely disappear from Nigeria. The extremely small lion population now remaining at Yankari Game Reserve is in imminent danger of extinction, it is likely that lions will disappear from Yankari within a few years without rapid and decisive management interventions to permit the swift recovery of lion and prey populations. The long-term survival of lions in Nigeria demands urgent and focused conservation effort and improved financial and technical support for Yankari Game Reserve and Kainji Lake National Park.

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Interferon-gamma ELISA’s for the detection of Mycobacterium bovis infections in lions (Panthera leo)

In this research project steps toward the development of an IFN-gamma ELISA for the diagnosis of bovine tuberculosis in lions are made. Two different existing IFN-gamma ELISA’s were studied and tested. An ELISA, previously developed for the detection of recombinant rhinoceros IFN-gamma (Morar et al. 2007), was used to determine detection of recombinant feline IFN-gamma. An adapted feline IFN-gamma ELISA, developed by Rhodes et al. (2008) was the other ELISA system that was used in this research. Blood samples from both domestic cats and lions were collected and processed for use in the two different ELISAs that are mentioned above. Inconclusive results were obtained during this study, however this report describes the various steps that were performed and results obtained during a research period of three months.

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