Prevalence and intensity of gastrointestinal parasites in the vulnerable spur-thighed tortoise (<em>Testudo graeca</em>) from the central-western of Morocco
This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence and intensity of gastrointestinal parasites in wild Testudo graeca tortoises in Morocco. A total of 102 tortoises sampled in two arid areas: Central Jbilets Mountains (CJM) and Sidi Kaouki Forest (SKF) were macroscopically examined and subjected to qualitative (flotation and Baermann techniques) and quantitative (McMaster technique) microscopic examinations. The identified gastrointestinal parasites belong to two nematode families (Pharyngodonidae and Ascarididae) and three protozoa families (Balantidiidae, Eimeriidae and Entamoebidae). 92.1% of tortoises were determined to harbor one or more parasite types. Oxyurid adults were the most frequently encountered with a prevalence of 22.7% and 72.4% in CJM and SKF, respectively. Nematode eggs were found in almost all individuals of both populations studied. The prevalence of protozoa was 9.1% and 3.4% in CJM and SKF, respectively. Oxyurid adults showed the highest intensity in SKF (36.5 ± 30.2) whereas, ascarid adults are absent in CJM. Statistical analysis showed that the prevalence of infection by ascarids was significantly higher in adults than in juveniles. The intensity of infection by ascarid and oxyurid eggs differed significantly between sexes and localities, respectively. Our results showed a difference of infection between the two localities, which could be in relation with habitat quality. SKF is affected by both agriculture and overgrazing. In addition, the tortoises from this locality are active for a large part of the year, which increases their chance of encountering the parasites.