Abstract

Lead and zinc are recognized as the most widespread trace metals in nature and can, at high levels, compromise the health of wildlife and their habitat. Because of their position in a higher trophic level, wild carnivores can be valuable biological indicator species of trace-metal contamination in the environment. We assessed blood lead and zinc concentrations of four small carnivore species native to Taiwan, the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), the masked palm civet (Paguma larvata), the ferret badger (Melogale moschata), and the crab-eating mongoose (Herpestes urva), from urban and rural areas (Yangmingshan National Park, Xiuguluan River bank, and Da-an River bank). Blood samples were acquired from the anterior vena cava under general anesthesia, and lead and zinc concentrations, hematology, and serum biochemistry results were then obtained. Blood lead levels were significantly higher in ferret badgers in the Yangmingshan area. Although lead concentrations were comparable with those in humans and cats with lead toxicosis, there was no hematological or biochemical evidence that animal health was compromised. Blood zinc levels were within an acceptable range in all four species tested. Overall, we found significant differences in blood lead and zinc levels among four species of carnivores living in areas with different levels of land development in Taiwan. Anthropogenic pollution, mining history, and volcanic activities in Yangmingshan National Park may contribute to significantly high blood lead levels in ferret badgers in this area. Our results provided information about the potential impact of land development on wildlife and may be beneficial to wildlife conservation, public health, and environmental health in Taiwan.

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