Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Musth in the African elephant, Loxodonta africana

Abstract

The phenomenon of musth in male Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, has long been recognized1. Musth, which has been likened to rutting behaviour in ungulates2, refers to a set of physical and behavioural characteristics displayed periodically by adult male elephants. The most obvious manifestations are a sharp rise in aggressive behaviour, copious secretions from and enlargement of the temporal glands, and the continuous discharge of urine3. It has been speculated that a similar phenomenon occurs in males of the African genus, Loxodonta africana, but most workers have concluded that it does not exist4–7. Here we show that musth does occur in the African elephant and that its manifestations are similar to those in the Asian elephant.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Sanderson, G. P. Thirteen Years Among the Wild Beasts of India (W. H. Allan, London, 1882).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Eisenberg, J. F., McKay, G. M. & Jainudeen, M. R. Behaviour 38, 193–225 (1971).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Jainudeen, M. R., McKay, G. M. & Eisenberg, J. F. Mammalia 36, 247–261 (1972).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Hanks, J. J. S. Afr. Wildl. Mgmt Ass. 3, 31–39 (1973).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Buss, I. O., Rasmussen, L. E. & Smuts, G. L. Mammalia 40, 437–451 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Short, R. V., Mann, T. & Hay, M. F. J. Reprod. Pert. 13, 517–536 (1967).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Sikes, S. K. The Natural History of the African Elephant (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1971).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Jainudeen, M. R., Katongole, C. B. & Short, R. V. J. Reprod. Fert. 29, 99–103 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Kurt, F. IUCN N.S. Publ. 24(2), 618–634 (1974).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Western, D. E. Afr. Wildl. J. 13, 265–286 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Poole, J., Moss, C. Musth in the African elephant, Loxodonta africana. Nature 292, 830–831 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1038/292830a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/292830a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing