Wise old elephants keep the young calm

Wise old elephants keep the young calm

Male elephants are always aggressive and they are more aggressive when fewer older males are present, a new research said.

The University of Exeter that conducted the study in collaboration with Elephants for Africa examined the behaviour of 281 male elephants in an all-male area in Makoadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana, over a period of three years.

AGGRESSIVE

The elephants were divided into four age groups, adolescents (10-15 and 16-20 years). and adults (21-25 and 26+ years). In the study, the researchers said that the removal of old male ones, which are often the targets of trophy hunting, could lead to increased human-wildlife conflict. They found that elephants were more likely to be aggressive towards non-elephant targets such as livestock,, vehicles and other species with fewer old bull elephants around. The researchers pointed out that adolescent elephants, in particular, were found more aggressive and fearful to non-elephant targets when they were alone compared to with other males. This also showed that socially isolated adolescents could be a danger to people. lead author Connie Allen of Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour opined trhat their study drew attention to what is often a rather overlooked area in animal behaviour, that of the complex relationships and connections that occur between males in non-breeding all-male societies.

OLDER ELEPHANTS

“It appears the presence of more knowledgeable, older elephants in groups may play a key role in keeping the younger, less experienced males calm and lowering their perception of their current threat level, which means there’s less risk of aggression towards humans and other species. “Alternatively, older bulls may police other males aggression directed toward non-elephant targets,” said Connie Allen

Meanwhile, Professor Darren Croft of the University of Exeter said that understanding the causes of aggression in male elephants is essential for reducing human-elephant conflict. *These new results highlight the important role that old male elephants can play in shaping the behaviour of younger males, which are more aggressive in the absence of old bulls – including towards vehicles. “These findings provide an important message for wildlife managers and suggest that the removal of old male elephants from populations could lead to an increase in human-wildlife conflict,” he said. The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is entitled “Reduced older male presence linked to increased rates of aggression to nonconspecific targets in male elephants.”

 

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