English

Understanding social behaviour is crucial to the conservation of Male Asian elephants

Subscribe to Google News

NEW DELHI:As human-elephant conflicts increase with time and expanding human range, understanding social behaviour becomes crucial to the conservation and management of the highly social and endangered Asian elephant.

The Asian elephant is a charismatic species with a long history of co-existence with humans. Yet works on male societies of wild elephants based on long-term observations are rare. To fill this gap, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, studied associations of male Asian elephants by collecting and analysing data on behaviour of identified nonmusth wild Asian elephants of Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks.

They found that the time spent by male Asian elephants in all-male and mixed-sex groups depended on the age of the male. Adult Asian male elephants preferred to spend their time alone than in mixed-sex or in all-male groups. Besides, old males were found mostly in the company of their age peers and less frequently with young males (15 to 30 years of age). Also, young males did not disproportionately initiate associations with old males.

Adult male Asian elephants are less social than females. They enter musth -- a mate-searching strategy for old (above 30 years of age) males, annually. The researchers hypothesised that when the adult males enter musth, dominance relationships may affect the number of mating opportunities they procure. Hence, it might be more crucial for old males than for young males to test strength with each other and settle dominance relationships during their nonmusth time.

On the other hand, since young males associated less with females during musth than non-musth time, they might also be using their non-musth time to search for mating opportunities.

The team observed male elephants and identified them using features of their ears, tails, and tusks and recorded whether males associated with each other in the presence or absence of females. They used six years of field data on 83 identified males for this study, which was published in the open-access journal ‘Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution’. They considered two possible reasons for male associations --non-musth males may use their time to fight with males of the same age class, who would be of similar sizes, to decide their dominance relationships, and young males might also use their associations to learn from older males about food resources and/or reproductive behaviour.

Their results showed that all-male groups (in the absence of females) were rare and small. According to the team, social learning from older males did not seem to play a big role in male associations. In contrast, African savannah elephants have been found to spend more time in all-male groups and to form larger groups, and young males preferred to associate with older males.

The researchers said that this could be due to the difference in the dispersion of food resources in the habitats occupied by the two species.

This study is one of the few that examines male associations in species in which males rove between social groups. It provides an example of how ecological differences could possibly drive differences in male societies in related species with similar male reproductive strategies.

Related Articles

Opinion Poll

Who is your favourite actor?




Advertisement

Newsletter

Advertisement

Weather
Trending

12th round of India-China military talks to take place soon

News
Three more PSG players positive for corona virus, six overall. Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona to avoid court fight. Japan Braces For Powerful Typhoon Haishen, Possible Record Rainfall. Third India-US 2 plus 2 Ministerial Dialogue underway in New Delhi. NSA Ajit Doval holds meeting with US Secretary of State & US Secretary of Defence in New Delhi. US Secretaries of State and Defence of USA call on PM Modi. Gadkari lays Foundation Stones of 9 NH projects in Tripura. NTPC Ltd. enters into foreign currency loan agreement with Japanese Government’s financial institution for JPY 50 billion under GREEN initiative. Senior US official tests positive for COVID-19 after Europe trip: media. UK  coronavirus death toll surpass 61,000. Cyprus and Lithuania removed from the travel corridor list of exempt countries. Iranian ambassador summoned regarding Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Prime Minister announces new national 4-week lockdown. Japan's COVID-19 cases top 150,000. Brazen armed bank heist in Brazil leaves cash scattered on road. COVID-19 could see over 200 million more pushed into extreme poverty, new UN development report finds. Farm laws are for the benefit of farmers; Opposition misleading farmers. CORONA VACCINE. J&K: Weatherman predicts moderate snowfall across Kashmir from Monday. Farmers’ To Continue Stir Till Farm Laws Completely Repealed,Doubts Raised Over SC Panel.