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Victor K Muposhi, Edson Gandiwa, Paul Bartels, Stanley M Makuza, Tinaapi H Madiri
The selective nature of trophy hunting may cause changes in desirable phenotypic traits in harvested species. A decline in trophy size of preferred species may reduce hunting destination competitiveness thus compromising the sustainability of trophy hunting as a conservation tool. We explored the trophy quality and trends in harvesting patterns (i.e., 2004-2015) of Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) and sable (Hippotragus niger) in Matetsi Safari Area, northwest Zimbabwe...
2016: PloS One
Bruce W Clegg, Timothy G O'Connor
As a foundation for understanding the diet of African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana), adult bulls and cows were observed over an annual cycle to determine whether harvesting (Pt ), chewing (Ct ) and handling times (Ht ) differed across food types and harvesting methods (handling time is defined as the time to harvest, chew and swallow a trunkload of food). Bulls and cows were observed 105 and 26 times, respectively (94 and 26 individuals), with a total of 64 h of feeding recorded across 32 vegetation types...
2016: PeerJ
Victor K Muposhi, Edson Gandiwa, Abel Chemura, Paul Bartels, Stanley M Makuza, Tinaapi H Madiri
An understanding of the habitat selection patterns by wild herbivores is critical for adaptive management, particularly towards ecosystem management and wildlife conservation in semi arid savanna ecosystems. We tested the following predictions: (i) surface water availability, habitat quality and human presence have a strong influence on the spatial distribution of wild herbivores in the dry season, (ii) habitat suitability for large herbivores would be higher compared to medium-sized herbivores in the dry season, and (iii) spatial extent of suitable habitats for wild herbivores will be different between years, i...
2016: PloS One
Yasuko Ishida, Peter J Van Coeverden de Groot, Keith E A Leggett, Andrea S Putnam, Virginia E Fox, Jesse Lai, Peter T Boag, Nicholas J Georgiadis, Alfred L Roca
Locally isolated populations in marginal habitats may be genetically distinctive and of heightened conservation concern. Elephants inhabiting the Namib Desert have been reported to show distinctive behavioral and phenotypic adaptations in that severely arid environment. The genetic distinctiveness of Namibian desert elephants relative to other African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations has not been established. To investigate the genetic structure of elephants in Namibia, we determined the mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region sequences and genotyped 17 microsatellite loci in desert elephants (n = 8) from the Hoanib River catchment and the Hoarusib River catchment...
September 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Michael J Chase, Scott Schlossberg, Curtice R Griffin, Philippe J C Bouché, Sintayehu W Djene, Paul W Elkan, Sam Ferreira, Falk Grossman, Edward Mtarima Kohi, Kelly Landen, Patrick Omondi, Alexis Peltier, S A Jeanetta Selier, Robert Sutcliffe
African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are imperiled by poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown over much of Africa. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations. Here, we report the results of the Great Elephant Census (GEC), the first continent-wide, standardized survey of African savannah elephants. We also provide the first quantitative model of elephant population trends across Africa...
2016: PeerJ
Kendra L Chritz, Scott A Blumenthal, Thure E Cerling, Hans Klingel
Megaherbivores (>1000 kg) are critical for ecosystem health and function, but face population collapse and extinction globally. The future of these megaherbivore-impoverished ecosystems is difficult to predict, though many studies have demonstrated increasing representation of C3 woody plants. These studies rely on direct observational data, however, and tools for assessing decadal-scale changes in African ecology without observation are lacking. We use isotopic records of historical common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) canines to quantify herbaceous vegetation change in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda following a period of civil unrest and poaching...
2016: Scientific Reports
Carolin Boehlke, Sandra Pötschke, Verena Behringer, Christian Hannig, Oliver Zierau
Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana) are herbivore generalists; however, Asian elephants might ingest a higher proportion of grasses than Africans. Although some studies have investigated nutrition-specific morphological adaptations of the two species, broader studies on salivary enzymes in both elephant species are lacking. This study focuses on the comparison of salivary enzymes activity profiles in the two elephant species; these enzymes are relevant for protective and digestive functions in humans...
August 31, 2016: Journal of Comparative Physiology. B, Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Nicolas Ferry, Stéphane Dray, Hervé Fritz, Marion Valeix
1.Animals may anticipate and try to avoid, at some costs, physical encounters with other competitors. This may ultimately impact their foraging distribution and intake rates. Such cryptic interference competition is difficult to measure in the field and extremely little is known at the interspecific level. 2.We tested the hypothesis that smaller species avoid larger ones because of potential costs of interference competition, and hence expected them to segregate from larger competitors at the scale of a resource-patch...
August 6, 2016: Journal of Animal Ecology
Qinglin Li, Lu Lu, Qiang Weng, Shigehisa Kawakami, Eriko Saito, Tatsuya Yamamoto, Yuki Yamamoto, Saroch Kaewmanee, Kentaro Nagaoka, Gen Watanabe, Kazuyoshi Taya
In this case report, the authors investigated immunolocalization of inhibin α and inhibin/activin βA and βB subunits, as well as steroidogenic enzymes, in the testes of an African elephant. Testes were collected from a reproductively active male African elephant (24 yr old) at autopsy. Histologically, all types of spermatogenic cells including mature-phase spermatozoa were found in the seminiferous tubules. Positive immunostaining for inhibin α and inhibin/activin βA and βB subunits was observed in Sertoli and Leydig cells...
June 2016: Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine: Official Publication of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians
Natalie A Gugala, Yasuko Ishida, Nicholas J Georgiadis, Alfred L Roca
BACKGROUND: African elephants comprise two species, the savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the forest elephant (L. cyclotis), which are distinct morphologically and genetically. Forest elephants are seriously threatened by poaching for meat and ivory, and by habitat destruction. However, microsatellite markers have thus far been developed only in African savanna elephants and Asian elephants, Elephas maximus. The application of microsatellite markers across deeply divergent lineages may produce irregular patterns such as large indels or null alleles...
2016: BMC Research Notes
Kathleen Sullivan, Katherine Kerr, Rachel Wanty, Bryan Amaral, Francisco Olea-Popelka, Eduardo Valdes
Successful pregnancy in African elephants is influenced by biological and environmental factors. For managed elephants many of these factors are set directly or indirectly by their human care takers, including nutrition and husbandry. While African elephants often struggle to conceive and produce healthy offspring under human care, Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) has effectively managed six gestations to fruition in three cows. Despite differences between mothers in terms of BW and growth curves during gravidity, each pregnancy successfully resulted in the birth of a healthy calf...
July 25, 2016: Zoo Biology
Janine L Brown, Stephen Paris, Natalia A Prado-Oviedo, Cheryl L Meehan, Jennifer N Hogan, Kari A Morfeld, Kathy Carlstead
As part of a multi-institutional study of zoo elephant welfare, we evaluated female elephants managed by zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and applied epidemiological methods to determine what factors in the zoo environment are associated with reproductive problems, including ovarian acyclicity and hyperprolactinemia. Bi-weekly blood samples were collected from 95 African (Loxodonta africana) and 75 Asian (Elephas maximus) (8-55 years of age) elephants over a 12-month period for analysis of serum progestogens and prolactin...
2016: PloS One
Brian J Greco, Cheryl L Meehan, Jen N Hogan, Katherine A Leighty, Jill Mellen, Georgia J Mason, Joy A Mench
Stereotypic behavior is an important indicator of compromised welfare. Zoo elephants are documented to perform stereotypic behavior, but the factors that contribute to performance have not been systematically assessed. We collected behavioral data on 89 elephants (47 African [Loxodonta africana], 42 Asian [Elephas maximus]) at 39 North American zoos during the summer and winter. Elephants were videoed for a median of 12 daytime hours per season. A subset of 32 elephants (19 African, 13 Asian) was also observed live for a median of 10...
2016: PloS One
Michele A Miller, Jennifer N Hogan, Cheryl L Meehan
For more than three decades, foot and musculoskeletal conditions have been documented among both Asian [Elephas maximus] and African [Loxodonta africana] elephants in zoos. Although environmental factors have been hypothesized to play a contributing role in the development of foot and musculoskeletal pathology, there is a paucity of evidence-based research assessing risk. We investigated the associations between foot and musculoskeletal health conditions with demographic characteristics, space, flooring, exercise, enrichment, and body condition for elephants housed in North American zoos during 2012...
2016: PloS One
Kari A Morfeld, Cheryl L Meehan, Jennifer N Hogan, Janine L Brown
Obesity has a negative effect on health and welfare of many species, and has been speculated to be a problem for zoo elephants. To address this concern, we assessed the body condition of 240 elephants housed in North American zoos based on a set of standardized photographs using a 5-point Body Condition Score index (1 = thinnest; 5 = fattest). A multi-variable regression analysis was then used to determine how demographic, management, housing, and social factors were associated with an elevated body condition score in 132 African (Loxodonta africana) and 108 Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants...
2016: PloS One
Natalia A Prado-Oviedo, Mary K Bonaparte-Saller, Elizabeth J Malloy, Cheryl L Meehan, Joy A Mench, Kathy Carlstead, Janine L Brown
This study quantified social life events hypothesized to affect the welfare of zoo African and Asian elephants, focusing on animals that were part of a large multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional elephant welfare study in North America. Age was calculated based on recorded birth dates and an age-based account of life event data for each elephant was compiled. These event histories included facility transfers, births and deaths of offspring, and births and deaths of non-offspring herd mates. Each event was evaluated as a total number of events per elephant, lifetime rate of event exposure, and age at first event exposure...
2016: PloS One
Matthew R Holdgate, Cheryl L Meehan, Jennifer N Hogan, Lance J Miller, Jeff Rushen, Anne Marie de Passillé, Joseph Soltis, Jeff Andrews, David J Shepherdson
Resting behaviors are an essential component of animal welfare but have received little attention in zoological research. African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) rest includes recumbent postures, but no large-scale investigation of African and Asian zoo elephant recumbence has been previously conducted. We used anklets equipped with accelerometers to measure recumbence in 72 adult female African (n = 44) and Asian (n = 28) elephants housed in 40 North American zoos...
2016: PloS One
Brian J Greco, Cheryl L Meehan, Lance J Miller, David J Shepherdson, Kari A Morfeld, Jeff Andrews, Anne M Baker, Kathy Carlstead, Joy A Mench
The management of African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants in zoos involves a range of practices including feeding, exercise, training, and environmental enrichment. These practices are necessary to meet the elephants' nutritional, healthcare, and husbandry needs. However, these practices are not standardized, resulting in likely variation among zoos as well as differences in the way they are applied to individual elephants within a zoo. To characterize elephant management in North America, we collected survey data from zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, developed 26 variables, generated population level descriptive statistics, and analyzed them to identify differences attributable to sex and species...
2016: PloS One
Cheryl L Meehan, Joy A Mench, Kathy Carlstead, Jennifer N Hogan
Concerns about animal welfare increasingly shape people's views about the acceptability of keeping animals for food production, biomedical research, and in zoos. The field of animal welfare science has developed over the past 50 years as a method of investigating these concerns via research that assesses how living in human-controlled environments influences the behavior, health and affective states of animals. Initially, animal welfare research focused on animals in agricultural settings, but the field has expanded to zoos because good animal welfare is essential to zoos' mission of promoting connections between animals and visitors and raising awareness of conservation issues...
2016: PloS One
Cheryl L Meehan, Jennifer N Hogan, Mary K Bonaparte-Saller, Joy A Mench
We evaluated 255 African (Loxodonta africana) and Asian (Elephas maximus) elephants living in 68 North American zoos over one year to quantify housing and social variables. All parameters were quantified for the both the day and the night and comparisons were made across these time periods as well as by species and sex. To assess housing, we evaluated not only total exhibit size, but also individual animals' experiences based on the time they spent in the unique environments into which the exhibits were subdivided...
2016: PloS One
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