Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Orphaned Elephants Forced To Forge New Bonds Decades After Ivory Ban

Date:
January 21, 2009
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
An African elephant never forgets -- especially when it comes to the loss of its kin, according to researchers. New findings reveal that the negative effects of poaching persist for decades after the killing has ended.

An African elephant never forgets -- especially when it comes to the loss of its kin.
Credit: iStockphoto/Peter Malsbury

An African elephant never forgets – especially when it comes to the loss of its kin, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Their findings, published online in the journal, Molecular Ecology, reveal that the negative effects of poaching persist for decades after the killing has ended.

Related Articles


“Our study shows that it takes a long time – upwards of 20 years – for a family who has lost its kin to rebuild,” said lead researcher Kathleen Gobush, Ph.D., a research ecologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and a former doctoral student at the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology.

African elephants rely heavily on matriarchs to lead groups and keep families together. Before the 1989 ban on ivory trade, nearly 75 percent of all elephants in Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park were killed. Poachers targeted those with the largest tusks – particularly older matriarchs. “A lot of these females lost their sisters and mothers, and were left living a solitary existence,” said Sam Wasser, Ph.D., director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. “So the question became, what are the long-term impacts on the genetic relatedness of groups?”

In search of an answer, the scientists tracked more than 100 groups of elephants living in Mikumi National Park. They assessed the lasting effects of poaching on group size, relatedness, and social bonding by comparing information about each group with previous reports of protected populations.

The researchers found that elephants in Mikumi formed unusually small groups, with nearly a third of the females living alone. Interestingly, some of the elephants chose to forge new bonds with unrelated groups after their own kin had perished.

“When we saw the solitary females, we initially thought that some lucky elephants still had their families, while other elephants had lost it all,” Gobush said. “But we actually saw a flexibility in their behavior. Some elephants were able to find their way and create new bonds with unrelated female elephants, while others did not.”

The researchers say it is unclear how long the effects will persist, especially in light of the recent increase in illegal ivory trade. But one thing is certain: Poaching continues to introduce major disruptions in the African elephant’s family tree at a substantial cost.

“Elephants are very long-lived animals. They are extremely social, and there’s a tremendous amount of group integrity and competitive ability,” Wasser said. “It’s been nearly 20 years since the ivory ban and there are still incredibly persistent impacts of illegal culling on these populations.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Orphaned Elephants Forced To Forge New Bonds Decades After Ivory Ban." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120091425.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2009, January 21). Orphaned Elephants Forced To Forge New Bonds Decades After Ivory Ban. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120091425.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Orphaned Elephants Forced To Forge New Bonds Decades After Ivory Ban." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120091425.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins