Veterinary Sciences and Medicine

Long-Term Mortality Monitoring of Captive Sand Gazelles (Gazella Marica): Assessment and Recommendation

Author(s): Jorge F. Soares*, Mohammed Almutairi, William Macasero, Helena Pereira, Fekadu Shiferaw Desta, Torsten Wronski

The major objective of captive breeding programs for threatened wildlife species is the production of animals for reintroduction and to maintain self-sustaining populations in captivity. One strategy to improve reintroduction success as a conservation tool, is to produce enough animals that have good prospects for survival in the wild. It is therefore imperative to increase the number of potential recruits by reducing mortalities within the captive population. This goal can be best achieved by implementing a good animal health and welfare management. Causes of mortality in captive sand gazelles (Gazella marica) held at King Khalid Wildlife Research Center (KKWRC) in Saudi Arabia were monitored from 1988 to 2012. For this purpose, the pathology and necropsy records of 1,938 mortalities recorded at KKWRC were reviewed and summarized. The largest number of deaths were due to trauma (n = 744, 36.1%), whereby, 291 cases were self-inflicted (15.0%), 210 were caused by predators (10.8%), and 243 cases could be attributed to mate aggression (12.5%). Malnutrition (n = 108, 5.6%) and birth-related causes, such as maternal neglect (n = 165, 8.5%), dystocia (n = 44, 2.3%) and stillbirth (n = 95, 4.9%) accounted for another 21.3% of all mortalities. Among the infectious diseases, respiratory infection was the major cause of mortality, accounting for 159 cases (8.2%) of recorded deaths. Respiratory infections were most prevalent during spring (March - May) suggesting seasonal or climatic effects. Other clinical causes of death included gastro-intestinal diseases (n = 31, 1.6%) and general infections (n = 146, 7.5%), such as that with Pasteurella multocida. Euthanasia due to disease management (n=74, 3.8%) such as Brucella melitensis and Mycobacterium bovis eradication were also important causes of mortality. The study discussed the significance of these findings to improve the captive management of sand gazelles in captivity and reports in detail on the first Brucella melitensis and Pasteurella multicida cases in this threatened desert ungulate.

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