Livestock Research for Rural Development 27 (4) 2015 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Knowledge and perception on ticks, tick-borne diseases and indigenous cattle tolerance to East Coast fever in agro-pastoral communities of Lake Zone in Tanzania

E L K Laisser1, 2, S W Chenyambuga2, G Msalya2, M J Kipanyula3, R H Mdegela4, E D Karimuribo4, A J Mwilawa5 and L J M Kusiluka6

1 Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Inspectorate Department, Eastern Zone, P.O. Box 325, Morogoro, Tanzania:
emalaisser@gmail.com
2 Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3004, Morogoro, Tanzania
3 Department of Veterinary Anatomy, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3016, Morogoro, Tanzania
4 Department of Veterinary Medicine and Public Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3021, Morogoro, Tanzania
5 Tanzania Livestock Research Institute, Mabuki, P.O. Box 352, Mwanza, Tanzania
6 Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania

Abstract

This study was carried out to assess farmers’ knowledge and perceptions on tick species, tick-borne diseases (TBDs), tick control measures, production constraints and tolerance of Tarime and Sukuma zebu cattle to TBDs. The study involved 240 agro-pastoralists from Serengeti, Tarime, Maswa and Meatu districts in Tanzania. Data were collected through individual interview using a structured questionnaire.

 

Livestock diseases were ranked as the first important problem affecting cattle production in Serengeti and Tarime districts while in Maswa and Meatu districts lack of livestock feeds during the dry season was ranked as the most important constraints, followed by livestock diseases. Among the diseases affecting cattle, the TBDs ranked first in Serengeti and Tarime while in Maswa and Meatu the TBDs, ranked fourth and sixth, respectively. Most of the livestock farmers interviewed (74%) knew well the signs of the TBDs. Circling/high stepping, red urine, hard dung and swollen lymph nodes were mentioned as clinical symptoms for heartwater, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and East Coast fever (ECF), respectively. The majority of the respondents in all districts knew that ECF is caused by ticks, but did not associate the other TBDs with ticks. The most prevalent ticks were bont ticks (Ambyomma spp), blue ticks (Boophilus spp) and brown ear ticks (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus). Most of the farmers interviewed were using acaricide to control ticks, and the most common method of application was hand spraying. All farmers used Oxytetracycline to treat TBDs; however, some farmers  used local herbs. Although most farmers knew the signs of TBDs, they were not spraying/dipping their animals on regular basis because of economic reasons and the belief that their animals always carry ticks without being sick or dying and ECF affects only calves. About half of the farmers considered their breeds to be tolerant to ticks and ECF. In conclusion, the livestock farmers in the Lake zone have substantial knowledge on tick species and TBD symptoms and they have a perception that ECF is not the most important disease compared to the other TBDs.

Keywords: Acaricide application method, tick species, Zebu cattle


Introduction

Livestock keeping is one of the major economic activities in agro-pastoral and pastoral communities of Tanzania and makes a significant contribution to food security and income (MLFD 2011). Tanzania has 22.8 million cattle, 15.6 million goats, 7.0 million sheep, 35.5 million indigenous chickens, 24.5 million commercial chickens, 2.01 million pigs and 291,960 donkeys (MLFD 2014). Among the livestock species kept in Tanzania, cattle contribute significantly to income, food and nutrition security of livestock keepers. Indigenous breeds of cattle make 95% of the national herd and the remaining are improved dairy (3%) and beef (2%) breeds, with the former saving as the main source of livestock products in the country (Msechu 2001). Tanzania Shorthorn Zebu (TSHZ) is the predominant breed and is comprised by a number of strains i.e. Singida White, Mbulu, Gogo, Chaga, Iringa Red, Sukuma, Maasai, Mkalama Dun, Tarime and Pare (Das and Mkonyi 2003).

 

In many countries, Tanzania inclusive, Ticks and Tick borne Diseases (TBDs) are the major health impediments to improved livestock production and cause considerable economic losses to livestock keepers as they negatively affect growth, milk production, draft power, fertility, quality of hides and survival of all classes of farm animals. However,  control of ticks by using acaricides is increasingly becoming too expensive for the average livestock farmer (Mugisha et al 2005). Currently most livestock keepers do not use appropriate rate of acaricide recommended by the manufacturer due to high prices (Okello-Onen and Rutagwenda 1998).

 

Studies have shown that the intensive application (on weekly basis) of acaricide is uneconomical and unsustainable in the traditional livestock production system where indigenous cattle are kept (Pegram et al 1993). This is because the conventional tick and TBDs control programmes in many tropical countries were developed for tick eradication aiming to protect introduced exotic cattle breeds. The weekly application of acaricides has been adopted despite the fact that resistance to tick infestation differs among cattle breeds. Zebu cattle have much higher resistance to ticks and TBDs compared to Boran and European breeds (Glass and Jensen 2007).

 

Little research efforts have been done to put into consideration the knowledge and perception of indigenous/local farmers on disease management of their indigenous animals. The indigenous knowledge of local livestock keepers on tick and TBDs control is of paramount importance in the design of disease control programmes and adds value to modern animal health care system. Hence, the whole concept of tick and TBDs control programme need to be revised to incorporate indigenous knowledge and perceptions of farmers on diseases and available diseases control options (Geerlings 2001). The information on the use of indigenous knowledge in tick and TBDs control is scarce, especially in the Lake Zone of Tanzania where the majority of the livestock are kept. Therefore, epidemiological information based on livestock keepers’ knowledge and experiences is required in order to design effective control measures. This study was conducted to assess the farmers’ knowledge and perceptions on ticks, TBD  and their control measures, and perceptions of farmers with regard to tolerance of their breeds to TBDs as well as livestock production constraints.


Materials and Methods

Study area

 

The study was carried out in Tarime and Serengeti districts (Mara region) and Maswa and Meatu districts (Simiyu region) in the Lake Zone of Tanzania between March and June 2013. Mara region lies between latitudes 10 0’ and 20 31’ south of Equator and between longitudes 330 10’ and 350 15’ east of Greenwich while Simiyu region lies between latitude 201” and 40 south of Equator and between longitudes 3303” and 3501” east of Greenwich. In Tarime and Serengeti districts Tarime Zebu cattle are kept while in Maswa and Meatu districts the Sukuma cattle are kept. Both Tarime and Sukuma cattle belong to the Tanzania Shorthorn zebu breed. The dominant farming system in all districts is agro-pastoral production system in which livestock farmers practice herded grazing in communal and fallow lands.

 

Sampling procedure

 

Purposive sampling technique was employed and the sampling frame was districts, villages and finally households. The purposive sampling was used to select the districts and villages with large numbers of the zebu strains which were of interest for the study. In each of the four districts, three wards and two villages per ward were selected, forming a total of 12 wards and 24 villages. Within a village the list of households keeping Tarime or Sukuma zebu cattle were used as a sampling frame from which respondents were picked randomly using a table of random numbers. Ten households per village were sampled, giving a sample size of 60 households in each district (240 respondents in total). The heads of the households were the main respondents. However, other members of the household, whenever necessary, had an opportunity to provide supplementary information. Information collected was; household socio-economic characteristics, livestock production constraints, most important disease in the area, cattle mortality rate due to TBDs in the area, ticks species and their control. This information was collected using structured questionnaires.

 

Data analysis

 

The information collected were coded and recorded into the spreadsheets and the data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), statistical software Release 16.0 (SPSS 2008). The following descriptive statistics were generated: means, standard deviations, frequencies and percentages. The percentage of famers’ response for a particular variable such as age and education of the farmers, experience in keeping livestock, important diseases, common tick species, tick control method used, frequency of dipping/spraying, tolerance of animals to ticks and ECF were compared among the districts using a chi–square test to test whether the proportions in the four districts were different from each other. The differences among the districts were considered significant at P ≤ 0.05.


Results

Household social characteristics

 

 Most of the farmers in the surveyed districts were above 35 years old (Table 1), indicating that livestock farming is commonly practiced by old people in the study areas. More than half of the respondents had at least basic education. There were more farmers with primary education in Meatu, Serengeti and Tarime compared to Maswa.  Most of the respondents had experience of more than 10 years in livestock keeping.

 

Livestock production constraints

 

Livestock diseases were ranked as the topmost problem affecting cattle production in Serengeti and Tarime districts and were reported to cause high mortalities and reduced production (Table 2). The farmers in Maswa and Meatu ranked lack of livestock feeds as the major constraints for cattle production, especially during the dry season. The reason is due to the fact that most land in the district is allocated to crop production and forest reserve leaving small marginal land for livestock keeping. Shortage of feeds and water were ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively. In Serengeti and Tarime districts it was observed that most farmers depended on the great Mara river, although high crocodile population in the river was reported to pose a threat to livestock when drinking water. Other constraints included high price of veterinary drugs, low genetic potential of zebu cattle, and lack of market for their animals especially during the rainy season when roads to livestock markets are not passable and these problems were ranked 5th, 6th and 7th, respectively.

Table 1: Household social characteristics

Variable

Districts

P-value

 

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

Average

Age of household head

 

 

 

 

 

 

15-34 Years

21.7%

21.7%

10.0%

10.0%

17.1%

0.105

35-64 Years

70.0%

65.0%

76.7%

71.7%

68.7%

 

Above 64 yrs

8.3%

13.3%

13.3%

18.3%

13.3%

 

Level of education

 

 

 

 

 

 

No formal education

41.7%

14.8%

13.6%

10.0%

20.0%

0.0001

Standard four education

0.0%

6.6%

6.8%

20.0%

8.7%

 

Primary education

53.3%

67.2%

76.3%

66.7%

65.9%

 

Form four secondary education

0.0%

6.6%

6.8%

20.0%

8.4%

 

Form six and tertiary education

0.0%

1.6%

0.0%

0.0%

0.4%

 

Experience on cattle keeping

 

 

 

 

≤ 10 years

10.0%

19.7%

37.3%

36.7%

25.9%

0.001

> 10 years

90.0%

80.3%

62.7%

63.3%

75.8%

 

(Kosgey 2004) 


Table 2: Ranking of constraints to cattle production in the study areas

Constraints

Ranking order

Chi square

df

P - value

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

Diseases

(0.192) 2

(0.229) 2

(0.174) 1

(0.170) 1

56.50

12

0.0001

Shortage of feeds and grazing land

(0.262) 1

(0.250) 1

(0.152) 2

(0.165) 2

33.58

12

0.001

Shortage of water

(0.147) 3

(0.160) 3

(0.126) 4

(0.145) 3

49.07

12

0.0001

Low genetic potential of the animals

(0.068) 7

(0083) 4

(0.117) 5

(0.108) 5

134.82

12

0.0001

Shortage of labour

(0.065) 8

(0.058) 8

(0.105) 6

(0.096) 7

107.92

12

0.0001

Lack of markets for livestock products

(0.078) 5

(0.075) 6

(0.088) 8

(0.089) 8

124.52

12

0.0001

High price of veterinary drugs

(0.118) 4

(0.067) 7

(0.150) 3

(0.127) 4

151.92

12

0.0001

Poor fertility of the animals

(0.070) 6

(0.078) 5

(0.090) 8

(0.100) 6

109.02

12

0.0001

Index in bracket calculated as =

Sum of (5Śrak1) + (4Śrank2)+(3Śrank3)+(2Śrak4)+(1Śrank5)

(Totalr5Śrank1)+(Totatr4Śrank2)+(Toatr3Śrank3)+(Totalr2Ś4)+(totalr5Śrank5)

Important Diseases in the study areas

 

The respondents were asked to rank the diseases according to frequency of occurrence, morbidity and animal deaths resulting from each disease. The most predominant diseases (using pair wise score ranking) were ranked differently based on the farmers’ experiences in each district (Table 3). Blackquarter (BQ), lumpy skin disease (LSD) and foot and  mouth disease (FMD) were ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Maswa and Meatu while in Serengeti and Tarime districts babesiosis, heart water and FMD were ranked as 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively. However, based on the overall scores the result show that, the most important disease was FMD (with 32 scores), followed by babesiosis and LSD (with 31 scores) while ECF had a score of 23.

 

The majority of livestock keepers were aware of the symptoms of different TBDs in all the districts surveyed. The symptoms that were mentioned included swelling of the external lymph nodes and circling or high stepping for East Coast fever and Heartwater, respectively. Babesiosis was reported to be characterised by passing of red urine while Anaplasmosis was described by emaciation and production of hard dung. The livestock keepers interviewed had adequate knowledge about TBDs and they knew the different diseases in their vernacular languages. For instance, in Serengeti and Tarime districts ECF was called “Chintura” by the kurya people while in Maswa and Meatu it was called “Madundo” in sukuma local language. Although the respondents in Maswa and Meatu did not rank TBDs as the most important diseases, the mortality reported by the farmers in the area shows that TBDs, specifically Babesiosis and Heartwater, were the leading diseases in causing deaths (Table 4). Other diseases which were ranked high included BQ, LSD, FMD, trypanosomiasis, CBPP and helminthiasis.

Table 3: Most important diseases as perceived by farmers in the four districts

Disease

Ranking order

Overall score

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

Anaplasmosis

8

8

7

7

14

Babesiosis

7

4

1

1

31

Blackquarter

1

2

8

8

25

Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia

6

9

9

10

10

East Coast Fever

4

7

4

6

23

Foot and Mouth Disease

3

3

3

3

32

Heart water

9

6

2

2

25

Helminthiasis

10

10

10

9

5

Lumpy skin disease

2

1

5

4

31

Trypanosomiasis

5

5

6

5

23

Note: Each disease was given a score as follows; 1st Disease =10 points 2nd Disease = 9 points,
3rd Disease = 8 points, 4th Disease = 7 points, 5th Disease = 6 points, 6th Disease = 5 points,
7th Disease = 4 points, 8th Disease = 3 points, 9th Disease = 2 points and 10th Disease =1 point.


Table 4: Number of animal effected by Tick Borne Diseases and resulting mortality

 

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

P-value

Contracted

Died

%

Contracted

Died

%

Contracted

Died

%

Contracted

Died

%

Anaplasmosis

50

21

42

60

37

62

30

13

43

60

39

65

0.61

Babesiosis

18

8

44

200

176

88

66

21

32

112

100

89

0.22

East Coast fever

5

3

60

55

42

76

18

2

11

59

43

73

0.60

Heart water

5

3

60

112

88

79

81

11

14

80

56

70

0.66

Mortality rates of TBDs infected animals

 

Farmers were able to recall exactly the number of cases when death occurred as well as the clinical signs shown by the animals before death. They were also able to remember the months when the death occurred. In general most deaths occurred during or just after the rainy season. Babesiosis was the leading cause of death in Meatu (88%) and Tarime (89%) while heartwater and anaplasmosis were the main cause of death in Maswa and Serengeti (Table 4).

 

Tick species and control methods

 

The most common tick species found in the study areas (Table 5) were bont ticks (Amblyomma spp), blue ticks (Boophilus spp) and brown ear ticks (Rhipicephalus appendiculatus). Ticks were reported to be common after the rains. Most of the interviewed farmers mentioned that the brown ear ticks were commonly seen on both calves and adults while the other ticks were rarely seen on calves. The farmers’ knowledge of ticks was influenced by geographical location and the extent of animals’ exposure and susceptibility to ticks. Farmers in Serengeti and Tarime districts, where tick infestation was high, were able to identify different species of ticks by their vernacular languages e.g. brown ear ticks (Rhipicephalus) are called Bitotona, blue ticks (Boophilus) are known as Rituru and bont ticks (Amblyomma) called Engoha. In Maswa and Meatu districts, where the intensity of ticks was low, no specific names were mentioned and the farmers just identified all species as “ng’hundya” in Sukuma language, which means ticks.

 

The majority of the interviewed farmers practiced tick control using either dipping or spraying with acaricide as a means of controlling TBDs while the rest  reported that they do not exercise tick control measures. Out of 240 respondents interviewed, close on half acknowledged that their animals are tolerant to ticks and ECF.  However, in Maswa only few farmers said that their animals were tolerant to ticks.

Table 5: Common tick species, tick control methods and opinions of livestock keepers on tolerance of their breeds to ticks and tick-borne diseases

Variable

Disticts

Mean
Percentage

P - value

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

Type of ticks

Brown ear ticks

70.8

66.7

76.9

86.7

70.3

0.22

Blue ticks

80.0

96.0

78.2

79.6

83.5

0.001

Bont ticks

90.2

81.8

86.2

83.8

85.5

0.29

Acaricide application method

Dipping

0.00

0.00

20

68.3

22.1

0.0001

Spraying

91.7

96.7

68.1

25.1

70.4

0.0001

Neither

8.3

3.3

11.9

6.6

7.5

0.35

Animals are tolerant to ticks

Yes

50

10

58

48

41.5

0.000

No

50

90

42

52

58.5

0.000

Animals are tolerant to ECF

Yes

50

38

54

32

43.5

0.000

No

50

62

46

68

56.5

0.000

Frequencies of spraying/dipping to control ticks

 

Dipping/spraying regime for tick control was irregular, ranging from once per week to no dipping/spraying at all (Table 6). The majority of the farmers reported that they apply acaricide once per month. Farmers who were applying acaricides by spraying knew the brands, price for each brand, concentration recommended for each brand and could compare the efficiency of different types of acaricides used. Some of the brands used were super dip (clorhexidine gluconate), paranex (alphacypermethrin), dominex (alphacypermethrin), cybadip (cypermethrin) and tixfix (amitraz). Those who were controlling ticks by dipping did not know the type of acaricides used, but only knew the price of dipping animals (i.e. Tshs 200.00 per animal for cattle and Tshs 50.00 per animal for small ruminants). According to the respondents this price was prohibitive for those having larger herds. The farmers who were practicing dipping also did not know the concentration of acaricides in the dip.

Table 6: Frequencies of spraying/dipping for tick control in the four districts

Spray frequencies

Number of the respondent (%)

Average (%)

P - value

Maswa

Meatu

Serengeti

Tarime

Once per week

12

20

10

10

13

0.0001

Twice per month

0

0

25

23

12

0.0001

Once per month

57.7

66.7

58.4

41

55.9

0.0001

Once every three month

5

15

0

0

5

0.0001

Twice per year

5

10

0

15

7.5

0.0001

Once per year

12

15

0

0

6.8

0.0001

Not at all

8.3

3.3

6.6

11.9

7.3

0.0001


Discussion

Household demographic characteristics

 

The age, education and experience of the household heads observed in Maswa, Meatu, Serengeti and Tarime districts conform to those reported by other researchers elsewhere (Chenyambuga et al 2008; Kivaria et al 2012). These results indicate that the majority of household heads were in the active age group, attained formal basic education and have a long experience in livestock production. This suggests that the farmers interviewed have good knowledge and skills on livestock diseases and could provide relevant information on how to manage and control them. Nkonya et al (2004) reported that in any rural community education provide better opportunities to access information and services and enable farmers to take correct actions. This in turn makes it possible for the local farmers to shift from traditional to modern way of practices/life. Furthermore, farmers with formal education can have a good opinion on how their breed can be managed for sustainability (URT 2002).

 

Livestock production constraints

 

Livestock diseases were ranked as the major constraints of cattle production in Maswa, Meatu, Serengeti and Tarime districts. This observation is in agreement with the findings reported by other researchers (Chenyambuga et al 2008; Maingi and Njoroge 2010). Tick-borne diseases were the most important diseases in Serengeti and Tarime districts while BQ and LSD were ranked as the most important diseases in Maswa and Meatu districts. This is probably associated with the higher amount of rainfall in the former districts compared to the latter districts. Tick- borne diseases are more prevalent in areas with high rainfall due to high tick infestations caused by the conducive environment (Ohaga et al 2007).

 

Knowledge and perceptions of livestock farmers on ticks, tick-borne diseases and their control measures

 

The respondents’ good knowledge on diseases can partly be attributed to the art of diagnosis and treating livestock diseases acquired through experiences whereby all family members are involved in animals management. In the traditional societies knowledge and skills on livestock management are usually passed from fathers to children when they are still very young such that when one grows up he is able to take care of his herd. The traditional knowledge of disease management among pastoralists has been reported by FAO/links (2000), with the recommendation of the need to preserve this knowledge. In general the farmers were knowledgeable on ticks and TBDs, though there were some differences among the districts influenced by geographical location and the extent of exposure to tick infestation. The farmers’ opinion that ticks are most common after the rains is due to the fact that ticks occur throughout the year and during the rainy season farmers have other farm activities, hence being unable to make close observations to their animals. The same observation has been reported by Chenyambuga et al (2008).

 

Other studies based on participatory research methods (Mugisha et al 2005) in Uganda have reported ECF to be the most prevalent cattle disease, followed by trypanosomiasis. In Tanzania ECF, anaplasmosis and heartwater have been reported to be one of the most important killer diseases (Swai et al 2007). However, in this study the livestock farmers in Maswa, Meatu, Serengeti and Tarime districts considered ECF as a minor problem. This is because of the farmers’ perception that Tarime and Sukuma zebu cattle are tolerant to ticks and TBDs. While other TBDs were a problem to all age groups, farmers pointed out that ECF is a problem only to the calves. This is in agreement with Chenyambuga et al (2008) who reported that ECF is perceived by most farmers as the disease of calves.

 

Our observation show that, a number of diseases were treated as they occurred, including ECF, anaplasmosis, heartwater and internal parasites. However, cattle vaccinations against TBDs were not carried out in these areas. Treatments for disease were jointly administered by veterinarians and individual farmers who have acquired the knowledge through experience. In the four districts surveyed, it is common to see farmers procuring drugs in bulky and acaricides during the livestock auction days. The common drug used to treat TBDs was Oxytetracycline. In addition to Oxytetracycline treatment, the livestock keepers commonly practice lymph node burning with hot iron for the treatment of ECF, particularly in Maswa and Meatu. This is the evidence that the farmers in the study areas have adequate knowledge on ECF. These findings on farmers’ knowledge on disease and their control concurs with that reported by Jacob et al (2004) that pastoralists have superior diagnostic skills for animal diseases  and their diagnosis conform to the veterinarian disease diagnosis criteria. This knowledge is orally passed on from one generation to the next, particularly from the elders to the young.

 

The results on the use of acaricide to control ticks and tick borne diseases disagree with Chenyambuga et al (2008) who reported that in some wards of Tarime district most farmers do not use acaricide to control ticks and TBDs due to the belief that their animals are tolerant. Our results showed that, even though most farmers still believe that their animals are tolerant to diseases, they have changed the attitudes with regard to dipping/spraying of their animals. More farmers reported that they dip their animals, but this depended on the availability/accessibility of dips. The farmers living far away from the dips reported that they spray their animals. The reason for the change in attitude was that many farmers have been made aware about the effects of ticks and TBDs through extension services provided by the government using village extension officers (Laisser et al 2014). However, the spraying/dipping regime practiced by the farmers was different from the recommended routine dipping of once per two weeks for indigenous cattle in tick-borne disease endemic areas (Glass and Jensen 2007). In the present study the majority of the farmers were spraying/dipping once per month. The main reason given was that the high cost of acaricides prohibits the adoption of weekly or bi-weekly dipping. This observation is in agreement with the findings reported by Mugisha et al (2005) in pastoral societies of Uganda. Generally, the farmers have adopted irregular use of acaricide which is not based on a well planned tick control programme. This is due to the fact that, the intensive application (weekly application) of acaricide is uneconomical and unsustainable in indigenous cattle as pointed out by Pegram et al (1993). This study has revealed that most farmers use hand spray to apply acaricides to animals and they are aware that the regular acaricide application is the most effective way for TBDs control, but they do not apply regularly due to economic reason. This is in agreement with the observation made by Mugisha et al (2005) that spraying is the most preferred method for acaricide application in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities. However, the tendencies of some farmers to spray acaricide on the animals when sleeping do not guarantee that all parts of animal body become in contact with the acaricides. This practice is not efficient in killing all ticks and the problem is aggravated by the fact that inappropriate dilutions of acaricides are used.

 

The inappropriate application of acaricides coupled with the fact that animals sprayed intermingle with other animals which have not been sprayed/dipped when grazing in the communal lands can lead to development of tick resistance to acaricides. In the traditional livestock production systems where animals from different herds are mixed during grazing, it is suggested that dipping should be used for applying acaricides as it is more efficient and reliable in controlling ticks compared to spraying. When spraying is opted, farmers need to be trained on how to prepare the correct dilution of the acaricide and the sites for tick attachment on the body of the animal where spraying should be focused. It also important for livestock extension officers, before introducing any strict tick control system to consider farmers experience. In other study it was found that in some wards of Serengeti district where strict tick control measure was implemented, the levels of tick infestation decreased, but increased the incidences of animal to succumb to ECF infection compared to the wards in which there was no strict dipping/spraying (Laisser et al 2014).

 

Although farmers in Maswa and Meatu did not rank TBDs as the most important diseases the mortality percentages reported by the farmers in the area show that TBDs, specifically babesiosis was the leading cause of death. In Maswa and Meatu the high rank was given to BQ due to the fact that at the time of this survey there was an outbreak of BQ disease in the area and farmers tended to recall the event which was burning at that particular time.

 

The difference in ranking of tick-borne diseases between Serengeti and Tarime on one hand and Maswa and Meatu on the other hand is due to the different management systems. In Serengeti and Tarime cattle graze in communal land throughout the year. This grazing system makes it difficult to control animal diseases in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities due to mixing of herds from different households. Furthermore, this practice tends to enhance the spread of ticks and TBD infections across the herds (Ogutu 2012). In Maswa and Meatu, animals from different herds do not mix and each farmer grazes his/her herd in a private grazing area. This is because of the shortage of grazing areas and each farmer needs to reserve a portion of grazing land known as “Kitiri” for using during the dry season. This kind of management helps to reduce tick burden and spread of disease incidences. Furthermore, grazing around the National park noted in Serengeti district is a predisposing factor for tick-borne diseases like ECF which can spread from wild buffalo to cattle (Marcellino et al 2012). It is suggested that farmers in all districts adopt controlled grazing and feed conservation as these can significantly reduce disease incidences of their livestock.

 

Farmers’ perception on tolerance of Tarime and Sukuma breeds to ticks and East Coast fever

 

In Serengeti and Tarime districts, the most common breed kept by local people is the Tarime zebu. This strain of TSHZ was the most preferred breed by the majority of the farmers in both districts. The farmers preferred this breed because they consider it to be more tolerant to ticks and ECF compared to the other TSHZ strains and they can survive without dipping/spraying with acaricide. This concurs with the findings reported by Chenyambuga et al (2008) in some wards of Tarime district. In Maswa and Meatu districts the predominant breed was the Sukuma zebu cattle. The livestock farmers in these districts preferred this breed because of its medium size, good shape and udder size, well placed teats and its docile temperament. The same findings have been reported by Akeyo (2012). In all four districts, disease resistance, low input in terms of treatment, feeding and ability of animals to survive under the harsh local conditions were the main reasons for keeping the local breeds. This observation concurs with the findings reported by Wambura et al (1998) who found zebu cattle to be relatively resistant to tick infestation compared to crossbred animals.

 

The general perception of the livestock keepers in the four districts was that their local cattle are tolerant to ECF. The belief that Tarime and Sukuma cattle are tolerant to ECF is supported by the evidence provided by the respondents that their animals survive without regular dipping/spraying and that infected animals do recover without treatment using veterinary drugs.This implies that the indigenous breeds in the Lake zone of Tanzania possess survival traits which enable them to live and produce under tick challenges. This is in agreement with Rege and Tawah (1999) who stated that indigenous cattle are blessed with tick resistance and tolerance to vector-borne diseases and they perform better than exotic breeds under low-input conditions, climatic stresses, especially during times of drought. However, according to Chenyambuga et al (2008) and Kipronol (2009), ECF, which is caused by Theileria  parva, has serious effects on calves than in adult cattle. Therefore, calves need to be protected by regular dipping/spraying as they are important for herd growth and form the replacement stock.


Conclusions


Acknowledgements

The authors are very grateful for the financial support from the Norwegian Agency for International Development (NORAD) provided through the programme for Enhancing Pro-poor Innovation in Natural Resources and Agricultural Value Chains (EPINAV) at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania. Finally, we would like to thank the District Executive Directors, District Livestock/Veterinary Officers, Village Extension Officers and livestock keepers in Maswa, Meatu, Serengeti and Tarime districts.


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and this document is their original research work done in Lake Zone of Tanzania and no part of it has been submitted somewhere else for conference presentation or publication.


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Received 3 January 2015; Accepted 13 March 2015; Published 1 April 2015

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