Monday, 20 August 2018

Capturing elephants from the wild shortens their lives

Date:  August 7, 2018
Source:  University of Turku

Humans have been capturing wild Asian elephants for more than 3,000 years, and this still continues today despite the fact that the populations are declining. An international team of researchers has now analysed records of timber elephants in Myanmar to understand the effects of capture. The study shows that even years after their capture, wild-caught elephants' mortality rate remains increased, and their average life expectancy is several years shorter compared to captive-born animals.

Millions of wild animals are captured alive each year for a diverse range of purposes. While members of some species can thrive in captivity and are healthier, live longer, and produce more offspring than their free-living counterparts, many others perform far worse. Elephants, for example, are known to be at a much higher risk of dying when captive in zoos compared to living in the wild. Comparisons like these, however, mainly illustrate the differences in the diet, social environment, exercise possibilities, and disease patterns between zoos and wild environments. They provide little insight to how the capture of wild elephants might affect their long-term well-being in captivity.

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