Ele­phant cull af­fects ‘last decades’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - WEEKEND AR­GUS REPORTER and BBC NEWS

AFRICAN ele­phants’ de­ci­sion­mak­ing abil­i­ties are still im­paired by culling op­er­a­tions that ended decades ago, ac­cord­ing to re­search from the Univer­sity of Sus­sex in the UK, re­ports BBC News.

A study found that herds, such as those in the Pi­lanes­berg Na­tional Park that lost adults to culls dur­ing the 1970s and 1980s, were less able to re­spond ap­pro­pri­ately to other ele­phant calls.

Pro­fes­sor Karen McComb said their “so­cial un­der­stand­ing” had been im­paired by the loss of the adults in re­sults pub­lished in the jour­nal Fron­tiers in Zoology.

The sci­en­tists say this is the first “ev­i­dence that fun­da­men­tal so­cial skills may be sig­nif­i­cantly im­paired by man-made dis­rup­tion”.

How­ever, David Bozas, who worked with “Ele­phant Whis­perer” An­thony Lawrence, said ele­phants were highly emo­tional.

“I don’t think they lose the abil­ity if they have no ma­tri­arch, but this just high­lights the need for emo­tional stim­u­lus,” he said.

Bozas said or­phan ele­phants in herds could be likened to teenagers with ab­sent par­ents. “But once they start in­ter­act­ing with other peo­ple, they are okay,” he said.

Lawrence, who died last year, was fa­mous for his work with ele­phants. When he died, it was re­ported that an ele­phant herd ar­rived at his home each night, a tes­ta­ment to the emo­tional con­nec­tion ele­phants have.

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