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Cyanobacterial toxins and bacterial infections are the possible causes of mass mortality of lesser flamingos in Soda lakes in northern Tanzania

Robert D. Fyumagwa1*, Zablon Bugwesa1, Machoke Mwita1, Emilian S. Kihwele2, Athanas Nyaki3, Robinson H. Mdegela4 and Donald G. Mpanduji4

1Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), P.O.Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania; 2Serengeti Nattional Park P. O. Box 3134, Arusha, Tanzania; 3Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) P. O. Box 1, Ngorongoro, Aursha, Tanzania; 4Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), P. O. Box 3022, Morogoro, Tanzania


During the mass die-off of lesser flamingos in Soda lakes of Tanzania in 2000, 2002 and 2004, clinicopathological and toxicological investigations were made in order to elucidate the likely cause of mortality. Water and tissue samples were collected from the lakes and from dead flamingos respectively. While water samples were analyzed for pesticide residues, tissues were analyzed for pesticide residues and cyanotoxins. The significant pathological lesions observed in fresh carcasses included oedema in lungs, enlarged liver, haemorrhages in liver with multiple necrotic foci, haemorrhages in kidneys and haemorrhages in intestines with erosion of mucosa. Analysis of cyanotoxins revealed presence of neurotoxin (anatoxin-a) and hepatotoxins (microcystins LR, RR). Concentrations of microcystins LR were significantly higher (P = 0.0003) in liver than in other tissues. Based on clinicopathological findings and concentrations of the detected cyanotoxins, it is suspected that cyanobacterial toxins concurrent with secondary bacterial infection were the likely cause of the observed mortalities in flamingos.

Keywords: Bacterial infection; cyanobacteria toxins; lesser flamingos; Soda lakes; Tanzania
To cite this article: Fyumagwa RD, Z Bugwesa, M Mwita, ES Kihwele, A Nyaki, RH Mdegela and DG Mpanduji, 2013. Cyanobacterial toxins and bacterial infections are the possible cause of mass mortality of lesser flamingos in soda lakes in northern Tanzania. Res. Opin. Anim. Vet. Sci., 3(3), 80-85.

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