Journal of the South African Veterinary Association
On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128
UYS, André C.; HORAK, Ivan G. and HARRISON, Alan. Questing ixodid ticks on the vegetation of sable antelope and multi-herbivore enclosures in Thabazimbi. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2015, vol.86, n.1, pp.1-9. ISSN 2224-9435. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/JSAVA.V86I1.1243.
This survey of ixodid ticks was the first to compare the species composition and population dynamics of free-living ticks in intensive, sable antelope breeding enclosures, now commonplace in commercial wildlife ranching in South Africa, with those of multi-herbivore enclosures. The species composition, abundance and seasonal abundance of questing ixodid ticks on the vegetation in intensive breeding enclosures for sable antelope (Hippotragus niger), on which strategic tick control is practised, were compared with those of ticks in a multi-species herbivore enclosure surrounding the breeding enclosures in which no tick control is practised. A total of eight ixodid tick species were collected by drag-sampling the woodland and grassland habitats in each enclosure type monthly from July 2011 to July 2013. Rhipicephalus decoloratus, a potential vector of fatal tick-borne disease in sable antelopes, was the most abundant, accounting for 65.4% of the total number of ticks collected in the sable enclosures, whilst representing only 25.4% of number of ticks collected in the multi-species herbivore enclosure. Rhipicephalus decoloratus and R. evertsi evertsi were more abundant than R. appendiculatus (both p < 0.05) and Amblyomma hebraeum (p < 0.001 and p < 0.01, respectively). Rhipicephalus decoloratus larvae were collected throughout the year, with peak collections in November 2012 and October to December 2013 in the sable enclosures; and in April/May 2012 and February/April 2013 in the multi-species herbivore enclosure. More R. decoloratus were recovered in the second year than in the first year in the grassland habitat of the sable enclosures (V = 7.0, p < 0.05) possibly as a result of acaricide resistance. The apparent temporal over-abundance of R. decoloratus in sable antelope breeding enclosures, in the face of strategic tick control, is of concern and requires further investigation.