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Wildlife parasites: Lessons for parasite control in livestock

Veterinary Parasitology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0304-4017(97)00030-7
  • Wildlife
  • Balance Of Nature
  • Parasite Role
  • Host Selection
  • Survival Of The Fittest
  • Sustainable Production
  • Host Resilience
  • Host Resistance
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Medicine


Abstract For sustainable livestock production it is suggested that the parasitologist take a leaf out of Nature's book in the search for solutions to the mounting problems concerning parasite control. While the farmer has come to regard all parasites affecting livestock as entirely without benefit, indigenous parasites and diseases are normal and play an essential role as interacting components of a natural environment in an ecosystem such as the 19 000 km 2-sized Kruger National Park, Republic of South Africa. The parasites help to select their hosts for fitness and are assisted by predators and intra-species territorial aggression which continually eliminate the weak individuals from the system. It is essential to guard against the introduction of foreign parasites or infectious agents which have no real ecological niche or role in an established ecosystem, however, as they cause untoward interactions, sometimes of a violent nature. The policy must be to block off or, failing that, to control or eliminate these foreign parasites and diseases as far as possible. Often, when Man intervenes in an ecosystem, it leads to stress, overcrowding and stagnation and predisposes to disease and death. Intensification of the system, as in farming units, denies Nature the chance to manage on its own, because of clashing interests with Man. Frank parasitism and disease should almost invariably be seen as indicators of an imbalance in the ecosystem and should be rectified. Chemicals and vaccines should be used to produce suffiicient food for all, but without exploiting Nature, or else Nature will be unable to continue catering for Man's needs.

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