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The Brown Ear Tick

Written by Phil C Minnaar
Photos by Anél Minnaar

In recent months several WPAZ members reported a sudden and severe outbreak of Brown Ear Tick in the Central and Eastern areas of Zambia. After some research and photographing the subject, I am now in a position to help WPAZ members with a practical solution! (NB: This is not a scientific paper – just the result of research and experience in the field.)


Rhipicephalus appendiculatus
(Brown Ear Tick)

GENUS                         Rhipicephalus
Southern and eastern Africa
Inhabits warm and humid countries


Brown Ear Tick

The Brown Ear Tick at 200 x magnification.


LIFE CYCLE Three host tickCan survive 14 months
MATING HABITS Females lay up to 3000-5000 eggs each time
FEEDING HABIT Causes tick paralysis
HOSTS Targets cattle, horses, sheep, goats, antelopes, dogs and rodents
DISEASES Transmits Theileria parva (East coast fever), Hepatozoon canis,Theileria mutans,
Babesia bigemia, Rickettsia conorii and Louping ill
DISTRIBUTION The ticks occur in the east, central and coastal areas. They prefer savannah habitat with trees.
SITE OF ATTATCHMENT Cattle may get heavy infestations of all stages: the adults cluster in the ears where they cause the “bleeding ear” syndrome. Immature ticks are found on the head and neck. In game, especially Eland and Kudu, the ears are the most affected.
SEASONS Adults are numerous in December and March, the larvae in March- July and the nymphs in June to October.
IMPORTANT These ticks cause tick toxicosis and damage to ears. They also transmit East Coast Fever and Corridor Disease (both Theilerial diseases)
DESCRIPTION The Brown Ear Tick is a very small 3-cycle tick that infests the ears of the host animal and particularly in game species like the Kudu and Eland. Apart from the loss of blood, which a heavy infestation may cause a considerable amount, ticks injure their hosts chiefly by the toxic effect of their saliva and by the transmission of other diseases like piroplasmosis.

Brown Ear Tick

Eland cow with both ears affected.

The bite mark gets infected and an abscess forms that swells up to epidermises proportion. The skin separates from the cartilage of the ear and then the whole boil erupts. The entire abscess and pus gets exposed to flies that immediately lay their eggs in the mucus. Hour’s later maggots make their appearance and a horrifying period starts for the animal. The suffering of the animal is terrible and it is not yet known if any animal survives. One such animal are currently under surveillance on the Khal Amazi game farm and show signs of very slow recuperation over the past 2 months.

Symptoms of infected animals by the Brown Ear Tick:

1.  Hanging of the affected ear or ears
 Vicious shaking of the head
 Puss mixed with blood are hanging from the ear
 Lots of flies flying around the head and especially the ears
 A total absence of one or both the ears
 Loss of hearing to vehicles of people approaching
 Loss of condition and separation of the group

Eland and Kudu are the most effected animals by the BET.


I found that the DUNCAN APPLICATOR with BAYERS pour-on DEADLINE and the SAFARI FEEDS game blocks works best for two main reasons:

I can combat internal parasites via the SAFARI FEEDS game block and external parasites i.e. Brown Ear Tick, with BAYERS pour-on DEADLINE applied via the Duncan Applicator at the same time.   The animals are drawn to the Duncan Applicator by the game block which satisfies their natural desire and need for additional minerals and salt in order to sustain body functions and heat.


Brown Ear Tick

A maggot invested ear of an Eland cow.

At his point, I should emphasise that the use of a DUNCAN APPLICATOR and the SAFARI FEEDS game blocks provides a secondary, complimentary solution to combat against all forms of external parasites and that our primary solution is still the right field management plan by means of planned burning programs and habitat control.


The SAFARI FEEDS game block was developed and tested in South Africa over the past 12 years for what is commonly referred to as "game" and is made up for a variety of large and small species of ruminants - further broadly classified as grazers, browsers and mixed feeders, according to their preferences for grass, buds or leaves and twigs of woody plants, or a combination of these - as well as a handful of monogastric non-ruminant game species like the rhino, elephant, bush-pig, warthog, zebra and hippo.

Brown Ear Tick

The DUNCAN APPLICATOR with SAFARI FEEDS game blocks in action.

The SAFARI FEEDS game block is acceptable to all, and gives economically justifiable results to every species. The ingredients of the SAFARI FEEDS game block produces the desired economic benefits when fed to ruminants, and yet is safe for non-ruminants (species with monogastric digestive systems) and have the required energy, protein, minerals and trace elements.

The SAFARI FEEDS game block has been formulated for a combination of palatability, enhanced performance and affordability, Many game species are shy and sensitive to taste, but a wide range of species, including Steenbok, Duiker, Nyala, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe, Eland, Zebra, White Rhino and even Elephant, find the Safari Game Blocks very acceptable.

Feeding Recommendation:

Small Game = 250 - 300 g/day
Medium to Large Game = 350 - 400 g/day

Safari Game Block Registered No. V13719
30/10/98 Farm Feeds

Class: Protein - Mineral - Trace Mineral - Energy Supplement for Game.
(Act 36/1947)


Protein (min) (58,8% from Urea)

157,0 g/kg



Fibre (max)

60,0 g/kg


120,0 g/kg

Calsium (max)

21,0 g/kg

Phosphorus (min)

11,2 g/kg

Sulphur (max)

4,8 g/kg

ME MJ/kg (estimated)


Selenium (min)

10 mg/kg

Cobalt (min)

0,56 mg/kg

Copper (min)

40 mg/kg

Iron (min)

260 mg/kg

Manganese (min)

112 mg/kg

Zink (min)

112 mg/kg


The DUNCAN APPLICATOR is constantly improved and is currently in its 3rd generation. Its modular design means that you'll never have incompatible replacement parts. The Applicator effectively treats large and small antelope with its unique Force Ring and with the cattle adaptor plate the product can be used for cattle and game simultaneously.

Any POUR-ON agrochemical product can be used, i.e. flies, mites, bacterial growths and fungi can be treated with the same product. No special skills required for installation of the product - it needs a firm footing and the column must be upright for proper operation. Since the product is lightweight, it must be anchored through the 4 eyelets of the container (recommended).

The sick animal’s immune system gets boosted with a lick while they get dipped for parasites. No wastage of dip or game blocks. The DUNCAN APPLICATOR also works well for all our game including Giraffe, Eland and Kudu.

DEADLINE: BAYERS DEADLINE is an Ectoparasiticide for instant use on all species of Game and Ostriches.

Control action:

 Apply the required dose volume with a suitable applicator. The DUNCAN APPLICATOR is the preferred applicator due to the fact that the amount of DEADLINE that gets to the animal neck and head of such an amount is, that makes overdosing possible.

If a self-medicating device (e.g. TICK-OFF) is used, it is important that the device only remains activated for as long as it takes to deliver one dose to the animal in the particular paddock/camp, and that the device is not used for continuous low-level treatment. Overdosing with this apparatus is possible.

For any additional information and help, please contact me on:

Phil Minnaar
Cell:  0975 150505