Thursday 27 June 2019

The older you get, the harder you seek: The mating secrets of Africa's bull elephants

JUNE 26, 2019

Males of many species slow down in their pursuit of females as they age. Not so with elephants. A new study published today reveals that bull elephants increase the energy they put into reproduction as they get older.
The new research conducted by the University of Oxford, Save the Elephants and Colorado State University, compared the movements of male African savannah elephants while they were in musth, a periodic state of intensive testosterone-fueled sexual activity, and when they were not. The results reveal that, as they age, male elephants move more in musth and move less out of musth. The combination of these two diverging factors meant that, despite having similar speeds and range sizes between states at age 20, by age 50 males were traveling twice as fast in 3.5 times larger area in musth compared to non-musth.
The investigation, led by Dr. Lucy Taylor at the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology, used a combination of visual observations and GPS tracking data from 25 male elephants aged between 20-52 years old. The data was collected in the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Northern Kenya, as part of Save the Elephants' long-term monitoring project between 2000 and 2018.

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