Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 443535
Title ‘Everybody knows’, but the rest of the world: the case of a caterpillar-borne reproductive loss syndrome in dromedary camels observed by Sahrawi pastoralists of Western Sahara
Author(s) Volpato, G.; Nardo, A. Di; Rossi, D.; Lamin Saleh, S.; Broglia, A.
Source Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9 (2013). - ISSN 1746-4269
DOI https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-9-5
Department(s) Gender Studies
WASS
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2013
Keyword(s) ethnoveterinary medicine - equine amnionitis - fetal loss - mare - abortions
Abstract Background The traditional knowledge of local communities throughout the world is a valuable source of novel ideas and information to science. In this study, the ethnoveterinary knowledge of Sahrawi pastoralists of Western Sahara has been used in order to put forward a scientific hypothesis regarding the competitive interactions between camels and caterpillars in the Sahara ecosystem. Methods Between 2005 and 2009, 44 semi-structured interviews were conducted with Sahrawi pastoralists in the territories administered by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Western Sahara, using a snow-ball sampling design. Results Sahrawi pastoralists reported the existence of a caterpillar-borne reproductive loss syndrome, known locally as duda, affecting their camels. On the basis of Sahrawi knowledge about duda and of a thorough literature review, we built the hypothesis that: 1) caterpillars of the family Lasiocampidae (genera Lasiocampa, Psilogaster, or Streblote) have sudden and rare outbreaks on Acacia treetops in the Western Sahara ecosystem after heavy rainfall; 2) during these outbreaks, camels ingest the caterpillars while browsing; 3) as a consequence of this ingestion, pregnant camels have sudden abortions or give birth to weaklings. This hypothesis was supported by inductive reasoning built on circumstantiated evidence and analogical reasoning with similar syndromes reported in mares in the United States and Australia. Conclusions The possible existence of a caterpillar-borne reproductive loss syndrome among camels has been reported for the first time, suggesting that such syndromes might be more widespread than what is currently known. Further research is warranted to validate the reported hypothesis. Finally, the importance of studying folk livestock diseases is reinforced in light of its usefulness in revealing as yet unknown biological phenomena that would deserve further investigation.
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