Impacts of recreational infrastructure on rodent communities and their associated haemoparasites in Serengeti national park, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


Rodents are a vital component of ecosystems influencing various ecological aspects such as community structure, stability, and diversity. However, they are very sensitive to environmental change, thus act as indicators of environmental suitability in their respective ecosystems. Rodents’ haemoparasites are zoonotic and have great potential of causing rodent borne diseases when transmitted to humans. Recreational infrastructures constructed in protected areas to support leisure and recreation activities for tourists, may disrupt the natural environment of rodents and influence dynamism in their communities and associated haemoparasites, an may lead to transmission of these haemoparasites to the human communities. Capture- Mark- Release was used to collect data in Serengeti National Park to assess the effects of recreational infrastructure on rodent communities and their associated haemoparasites. Four transect lines of 100 meters; set 10 meters apart were used for setting traps in selected trapping sites; and capillary tubes were used to collect blood samples for assessment of prevalence of haemoparasites. A total of 128 rodents belonging to 9 species were captured, of which Mastomys natalensis was the dominant species (53.1%). Generally, areas with less active infrastructure had more diverse community, but lower breeding pattern. Bacillus spp was the only haemoparasite observed to prevail in 24% of all captured rodents, with higher prevalence in adult males. The study concludes that different recreational infrastructure with regards to visitors’ occupancy do not affect rodent communities in their natural environment; rather the dynamism in rodent communities are influenced by the nature of the habitat and environment surrounding the infrastructure. Thus, we recommend that more detailed studies should be done in relation to potential agents of diseases within PAs. This would help in understanding if there are potential risks to tourists and wildlife, and solving them before any outbreak occurs, as the two communities have been found to interact.




Rodent communities, Haemoparasites, Recreational infrastructures constructed, Capture- Mark- Release, Tanzania, Serengeti National Park