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Social Life of Captive Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) in Southern India: Implications for Elephant Welfare

Vanitha, Varadharajan and Thiyagesan, Krishnamoorthy and Baskaran, Nagarajan (2011) Social Life of Captive Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) in Southern India: Implications for Elephant Welfare. In: Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 14 (1). pp. 42-58.

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Asian elephants in the wild live in complex social societies; in captivity, however, management often occurs in solitary conditions, especially at the temples and private places of India. To investigate the effect of social isolation, this study assessed the social group sizes and the presence of stereotypies among 140 captive Asian elephants managed in 3 captive systems (private, temple, and forest department) in Tamil Nadu, India, between 2003 and 2005. The majority of the facilities in the private (82%) and temple (95%) systems held a single elephant without opportunity for social interaction. The forest department managed the elephants in significantly larger groups than the private and temple systems. Among the 3 systems, the proportion of elephants with stereotypies was the highest in temple (49%) followed by private system (26%) and the forest department facility (6%); this correlates with the social isolation trend observed in the 3 systems and suggests a possible link between social isolation and abnormal elephant behavior separate from other environmental factors. The results of this study indicate it would be of greater benefit to elephant well being to keep the patchily distributed solitary temple and private elephants who are socially compatible and free from contagious diseases in small social groups at ocommon elephant houseso for socialization.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Depositing User: Id for Latest eprints
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2011 10:50
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2011 07:14
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/35813

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