Animal health problems attributed to environmental contamination in lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya: a case study on heavy metal poisoning in the Waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus defassa (Ruppel 1835).
Jumba Isaac O.
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A study was conducted in which samples of soil, forage, as well as serum, bone, kidney, and liver of waterbuck were collected from Lake Nakuru National Park. The objective was to determine the ecosystem health status in order to establish the causes of animal health problems previously recorded in some sections of the Park. Trace element analysis in serum indicated occurrence of copper (Cu) deficiency in the north and eastern sections of the Park where mean values were marginal (range: 0.36-0.81, mean: 0.62 mg/l) compared to concentrations recorded in the western part of the Park (range: 0.69-1.48, mean: 1.22 mg/l). Bone analysis on dry matter basis (DM) indicated higher (p < 0.01) levels of cadmium (Cd, 0.437 mg/kg), fluoride (F, 3178 mg/kg), and lead (Pb, 20.62 mg/kg) in animals from the east compared to those from the west (0.002, 1492, 4.87 mg/kg, respectively), suggesting heavy exposure. In addition, samples from the east had much lower than normal calcium (Ca)-to-phosphorus (P) ratios (mean: 1.9:1) compared to those recorded in the west (2.2:1), suggesting poor bone mineralization. There was a higher concentration of Cd in the kidney (16.24 mg/kg, p < 0.05) and Pb in the liver (58.3 mg/kg, p < 0.01) in animals from the east compared to those in the west (12.92 and 36.2 mg/kg, respectively), but the converse was true of Cu. The liver Cu status was better in animals from the west with, concentrations (mean: 21.7 mg/kg) being about twice those recorded in the east (11.9 mg/kg DM). Forage analysis revealed prospects of Ca, P, and Cu deficiencies in the entire Park. However, in the northeastern section of the Park (measuring 50 ha) where waterbuck residence times are high, forage concentrations of Cd (0.31 mg/kg DM), molybdenum (Mo, 7.20 mg/kg DM), Pb (2.88 mg/kg DM), and zinc (Zn, 126 mg/kg DM) were an order of magnitude greater (p < 0.01) than the levels recorded in the rest of the Park (ranges: 0.133-0.165, 3.69-5.61, 0.485-0.621, 11.6-17.4 mg/kg DM, respectively). These disparities were attributed to a higher soil concentration of Cd (2.77 mg/kg DM), Pb (85.1 mg/k DM) and Zn (1414 mg/kg DM) in this section compared to the rest of the Park (ranges: 0.10-0.15, 5.02-6.26, 1.49-5.44 mg/kg DM, respectively), and strongly suggest heavy metal contamination as the source of animal health problems in the Park.