Older bull elephants control young males

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Orphaned male adolescents go on killing sprees if mature males aren't around.

Abstract

Musth is a state of heightened sexual and aggressive activity in male elephants1,2. Between 1992 and 1997, young orphaned musth male African elephants (Loxodonta africana) that had been introduced to Pilanesberg, South Africa, killed more than 40 white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum). The killing ceased after six older male elephants were introduced from the relatively normal Kruger Park population. The deviant behaviour of the young Pilanesberg males was rectified by the consequent reduction in musth.

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Figure 1: Observed (black bars) and probable (white bars) musth periods of elephants identified by number.

References

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Correspondence to Rob Slotow.

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