Social Behaviour of Male Asian Elephants


    In News

    The researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) studied social behaviour of male Asian elephants.

    • Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) is an autonomous laboratory of the Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology, will collect and analyze data on identified non-muscular wild behavior.


    • The study had collected and analyzed data on behaviour of identified wild Asian elephants of Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks.
    • This study is one of the few studies investigating the association of male species in which males move between social groups.
    •  It provides an example of how ecological differences can promote differences in related species of male societies with similar male reproductive strategies.

    Key Highlights of the Study

    • They found that the time spent by male Asian elephants in all-male and mixed groups depends on the age of the male. 
    • Adult Asian male elephants preferred to spend time alone rather than mixed-sex or groups of all males. 
    • Moreover, older men were found primarily with peers of the same age, and less often in younger men (ages 15-30). Also, young men did not disproportionately start relationships with older men.
    • Adult male Asian elephants are less social than females. They enter estrus — a spouse search strategy for older men (aged 30 and over) each year. 
    • Researchers hypothesized that when adult males enter estrus, dominant relationships can affect the number of mating opportunities they obtain. 
    • Therefore, it may be more important for older men than younger men to test each other’s strengths and resolve dominance during their non-muscular time.

    About Asian Elephants

    • The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is polygynous, with males and females exhibiting different morphologies and adult lifestyles.
    • They are  the largest land mammals on the Asian continent. 
    • Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of six to seven related females that are led by the oldest female, the matriarch.
    • It lives in forested regions of India and throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.
    • There are three subspecies of Asian elephant which are the Indian, Sumatran and Sri Lankan.
    • IUCN Status: Endangered
    • Protection: It is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
    • It is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
    • Threats:  Habitat loss, fragmentation, human-elephant conflict, poaching and illegal trade of elephants.
    • Status in India: India is home to the largest number of Asiatic Elephants. There are around 28,000 elephants in India with around 25% of them in Karnataka.

    Difference between African Elephant and Asian Elephant

    African Elephant

    Asian Elephant

    They have much larger ears that look sort of like the continent of Africa. 

    Asian elephants have smaller, round ears.

    They have rounded heads

    They have a twin-domed head, which means there’s a divot line running up the head. 

    Both male and female African elephants can have tusks.

    Only male Asian elephants can grow tusks.

    Steps taken by India in Elephant Preservation

    • Project Elephant: A Centrally-sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to provide financial assistance to the states.
    • Elephant corridors and reserve:  Elephant corridors are secured through voluntary relocation of settlements and/or acquisition of land.
    • Training:  Training and awareness camps are organized regularly for local people for the conservation of elephants and other wildlife. 
      • Construction of barriers like boundary walls and solar-powered electric fences around the sensitive areas to prevent wild animal attacks.
    • Elephant and Train collisions:  A number of measures have been taken by Railways in coordination with Ministry of Environment and Forest which include the following:
      • The imposition of speed restrictions in identified locations.  Provision of signage board. 
      • Sensitization of Train Crew and Station Masters on a regular basis.  
      • Need-based clearance of vegetation on the sides of the track within railway land 
      • Construction of underpasses and ramps for the movement of elephants at identified locations. 
    • Elephant in captivity:  Proper guidelines and SOPs are issued for those areas where elephants are kept in captivity.
    • Operation Thunderbird: To fight against wildlife crime, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, coordinated “OPERATION THUNDERBIRD” in India.

    Source: TH