Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "wild" as "free or natural state of existence"; "not tame or domesticated"; or "loose from restraint or regulation". In contrast, "captive" is defined as: "taken and held as if a prisoner"; "kept within bounds"; or "held and controlled by another. In an ideal world, wild animals would have the freedom to live (and die) as they have for countless generations. The adaptations of animals have evolved in response to various environmental pressures and it is reasonable to assume that the best place for wild animals is in their natural habitat. However, this natural habitat has been modified by human activities and are rapidly pushing many species to the brink of extinction (Conway, 1995).
Ecosystem become altered by man activities, thus it become impossible for predators and prey to maintain their dynamic equilibrium. In the absence of large predators or the opportunity for normal migratory movements, populations of antelope, deer, elephants and other large herbivores can spiral out of control (Caughley, 1981). The ecological effects of such population can be devastating and are a growing problem for conservation biologists (Garrott et al., 1993).
The need to grow enough food to support the mass of humanity led people to convert over 99% of the island forests into farmland. As its forest habitat receded, so did populations of the various species of animal, and it is estimated that less than 65 survive on Java today (Sadjudin, 1992). Recognizing the importance and uniqueness of these species and their habitat, has led to the creation of various conservation scheme (MacKinnon, 1991). However, the creation of a protected area, in itself, is generally not enough to ensure the long-term existence of wildlife or the habitats on which they depend. Fenced reserves, no matter how large, will require intensive management in order to sustain the wildlife contained within. In these restricted environments, populations of large herbivores must be constantly monitored and controlled (Diamond, 1992).
Zoos now operate in a world of accelerating environmental threats and reduction in biodiversity. Zoos are to care for animals in enclosed areas, sometimes they construct groups of enclosures, often linked by a biological or conservation related theme that is based on habitat, geographical location or ecosystem. In some cases, zoos contain several different species, both animal and plant. Zoos serve as recreational facilities for families, social groups and individuals all over the world; in many parts of the world they are one of the major sources of safe and affordable outdoor entertainment (Diamond, 1992).
Through graphics and other methods of interpretation and engagement, such as keeper talks, animal feeds and the natural-behaviour animal shows, they can explain the biology and behaviour of animals within the enclosures, including their reproduction, social behaviour and population ecology. Some zoos also explain about the wild habitats where the animals are found, the threats facing the species in the wild and what zoos are doing to help conserve them. The overall welfare of animals in captive are taken by the zoo keepers ensuring that each animal feeds well, have conducive environment and right to a veterinary professional working with non-domestic animals. Management interventions such as the use of acaricides are required to maintain the health of these animals, to reduce stress levels, physical damage inflicted by arthropods and transmission of tick-borne diseases, especially when game are kept under semi-intensive conditions.
Arthropods such as ticks, fleas, lice and beetles has been recorded as the insect fauna of eland (Taurotragus oryx) in the University of Ilorin zoological garden. These arthropod species serve as vector of several parasites which are good determinants of the state of health of the animal. Thus there is a need to know the relationship that exist between these different arthropod species in relation to the environment and the wellbeing of the animal.
Fig1: Cape eland cows & bull, typical eland form.
1.1 AIM AND OBJECTIVE
The aim of this project is to study the arthropod fauna associated with African wild ruminant, eland, Taurotragus oryx, and the kind of relationship that exists between them in the University of Ilorin zoo.