Socialization of male elephants
Not much is known about the social life of male elephants. Before, people always thought they were mostly solitary.
This week, we will show you a unique project that has started at the ECC during the COVID19 crisis: the socialization of our male elephants.
There are around 800 elephants left in Laos: 400 in the wild and 400 in captivity. On top of that, the captive male elephant population is in danger of extinction. With the end of the logging industry 3 years ago, many elephants lost their jobs and transitioned into tourism. Since adult bulls have an aggressive nature, very few camps are willing to employ them. Managing male elephants in captivity is a challenge, likely due to the lack of understanding of male elephants’ social and physical needs and the lack of appropriate free contact management protocols for male elephants. As a result, many owners cannot afford to maintain them and there is an increase in male elephants dying every year in Lao PDR. Also, there are fewer and fewer mahouts that have the skills or are willing to handle male elephants, making it more difficult every year to take care of them. At the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC), we want to put in place a management protocol where we can provide the best welfare for male elephants without leaving mahouts at risk of injury or death. At the same time, they can still provide an income to their local families through breeding or through the protection of their natural habitat.
The preliminary results, the motivation of the mahouts, and the need for a better understanding of male elephants made the ECC take the decision of extending their study for 2 more years and to make it part of the Ph.D. performed by the ECC biologist Anabel Lopez Perez at Chiang Mai University.
This project has been partly financed by the @australiainlaos, MCA Comptabilité, @Senspa, private donors, and the ECC.
In the video below you can see that just like in the wild, our males are socializing during their bath.
We need your support more than ever to get through this difficult period.