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Capturing elephants from nature has hindered their reproduction for over a decade

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Catching elephants to keep in captivity not only impedes their reproduction immediately, but also has a negative effect on their calves, according to new research.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have found long-lasting negative effects on the reproduction of Asian elephants captured by nature and kept in captivity, in a joint study with the University of Turku and Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE). [1

9659005] Asian elephants captured by nature were less likely to reproduce during their lifetime and began reproducing later, with these declines lasting for over a decade. Researchers also found that this had a negative effect on the next generation, with calves born to imprisoned mothers who have reduced the survival rate.

About 16,000 Asian elephants are held captive in countries such as Myanmar, India and Thailand, mainly used for logging in the timber industry or for tourism. To maintain these industries, elephants continue to be trapped by nature, but the long-term effect of this for elephants is less studied.

With so many wildlife kept in captivity, often to try to protect endangered species, understanding how captivity affects animals in the long run is important to improve conservation efforts.

John Jackson, lead author of the study and Ph.D. Researchers at the University of Sheffield said: "Conservative programs that include breeding or captive management must consider that taking individuals from the wild can affect animals for many years, and this may hinder future conservation efforts.

" The finding of long-term negative effects of capturing wildlife is important not only for maintaining elephant populations in the future, but also for many other species taken from the wild. "

Professor Virpi Lummaa, Associate at the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences from the University of Turku, said:" The most important thing we found here is that the negative effects of taking animals out of the wild can last for decades and have encountered effects for generations in captivity.

"This is something that conservationists have to think about when capturing animals, because even if we re-create good conditions in captivity, animals can still struggle to reproduce." [1 9659005] Researchers also looked at the reasons why the calves of trapped elephants suffered.

Mirkka Lahdenperä, Ph.D. Researchers and co-authors of the study from the University of Turku said: "We believe that the stress that the elephants capture, which can affect a whole host of processes in the animal, such as the development of the fetus, body condition and social interactions, is the main reason why we see such large reductions in reproduction. "

The essay" Prisoner of Nature has long-standing costs for reproductive success in Asian elephants "is published Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.

The future of captive elephants hangs in balance

More information:
Mirkka Lahdenperä et al. Prisoners by nature have long-term costs of reproductive success in Asian elephants, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1098 / rspb.2019.1584

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University of Sheffield

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Catching elephants from nature hinders their reproduction for over a decade (2019, October 9)
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