Demography of captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in southern India

Sukumar, R. ; Krishnamurthy, V. ; Wemmer, Chris ; Rodden, Melissa (1997) Demography of captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in southern India Zoo Biology, 16 (3). pp. 263-272. ISSN 0733-3188

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Historically, the Asian elephant has never bred well in captivity. We have carried out demographic analyses of elephants captured in the wild or born in captivity and kept in forest timber camps in southern India during the past century. The average fecundity during this period was 0.095/adult female/year. During 1969-89, however, the fecundity was higher at 0.155/adult female/year, which compares favorably with wild populations. There was seasonality in births with a peak in January. The sex ratio of 129 male to 109 female calves at birth is not significantly different from equality, although the excess of male calves born mainly to mothers 20-40 years old may have biological significance. Mortality rates were higher in females than in males up to age 10, but much lower in females than in males above age 10 years. The population growth rate, based on the lower secundity over the century, was 0.5% per year, and based on the higher secundity during 1969-89, was 1.8% per year. The analyses thus showed that timber camp elephants in southern India could potentially maintain a stationary or increasing population without resorting to captures from the wild. Breeding efforts for elephants in zoos can thus profitably learn from the experience of traditional management systems in part of Asia.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to John Wiley and Sons.
Keywords:Asian Elephants; Captive Elephants; Demography; Reproduction; Southern India
ID Code:51901
Deposited On:01 Aug 2011 07:41
Last Modified:01 Aug 2011 07:41

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