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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of anthrax in the population biology of wildebeest in the Selous Game Reserve Gainer, Robert Stewart


Anthrax was associated with the death of a large number of animals in the Selous Game Reserve. The significance of this disease to the populations of these animals was of concern to the reserve's management. Models are presented of the evolutionary effects of four host-pathogen relationships. Based on a demographic study of the wildebeest and a study of the characteristics of the disease, the anthrax-wildebeest relationship was compared with the models. The results of the study indicate that even though anthrax was responsible for the death of approximately 10% of the wildebeest, it had a balanced relationship with the population. The pathogen was probably an asset to its host population's continued existence rather than a hazard, as its mortality was associated with animals that appeared to be a disadvantage to the wildebeest population. If the management of the reserve wished to reduce the occurrence of anthrax, it is suggested that they reduce the number of wildebeest older than calves. In addition to maintaining a stable age configuration, this would improve the quality of the habitat, reduce the number of animals in poor condition, and thus reduce the number dying of anthrax. In addition, I deal with several other topics in Appendices.

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