Managing elephants in the modern world: the impact of changes in traditional handling on semi-captive Asian elephant welfare
Crawley, J., Seltmann, M., Lahdenperä, M., U Mar, K., Lummaa, V. and Santos, D. (2018). Managing elephants in the modern world: the impact of changes in traditional handling on semi-captive Asian elephant welfare. 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. doi: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/108055
© the Authors, 2018
The current extinction crisis is leaving us increasingly reliant on captive populations to maintain vulnerable species. Approximately one third of the remaining global Asian elephant population (~15,000) are managed by humans and live in captivity to some extent (1). The vast majority reside in semi-captive conditions in range countries, and their relationship with humans stretches back millennia. Despite this long history, they have never been fully domesticated as they have always reproduced independently of humans (2). Instead, we rely on expert knowledge accumulated over generations of specialised elephant handlers, known as mahouts, to handle these essentially wild animals. This ancient profession, and the associated prestige and lifestyle, may be under threat in the modern day. Little is known about how invaluable mahout knowledge will survive, and how any recent changes may affect elephant welfare. Our study focuses on the keeping system of semi-captive timber elephants in Myanmar. As the only country still extensively employing elephants in the logging industry, Myanmar has the largest captive population of Asian elephants in the world (~5000), with the largest remaining traditional mahout system (1). Here we investigated how recent changes within the country may have affected the mahout system and the elephants in their care. Through interviews with experts of over 10 years' experience and with current mahouts from camps in Northern Myanmar (n=145), we found that mahouts now are younger (median age 22), less experienced (median 2 years), and change elephants frequently; factors indicating a threat to traditional knowledge transfer. We next assessed the impact of these mahout characteristics on elephant health (haematology, nutrition, serum chemistry) and stress hormone levels (faecal glucocorticoid), to better understand the effects of these demographic shifts on the well-being of elephants across their range countries. Our study provides an insight into how changes to the traditional handling of semi-captive populations need to be considered within the conservation management in this endangered species, which is applicable across their range. We specifically suggest a need for an active circulation of expert knowledge through formal training, rather than relying on passive knowledge transfer. 1. Sukumar, R. The living elephants: evolutionary ecology, behaviour, and conservation. Oxford University Press (2003). 2. Lair, R. C. Gone Astray: The Care and Management of the Asian Elephant in Domesticity. FAO, Bangkok (Thailand); Rome (Italy) (1997). ...
PublisherOpen Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
ConferenceECCB2018: 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland
MetadataShow full item record
- ECCB 2018 
Showing items with similar title or keywords.
Towards a Religion of Popular Sovereignty, Democracy and Equality : The Lutheran Sermon as a Nexus of Traditional and Modern Discourses on Political Values and a Collective Identity Ihalainen, Pasi (Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2019)The external forms of contemporary occasions of Finnish and Swedish national worship organized to celebrate political events differ little from those of early-modern Sweden. However, the expressions of the political values ...
Granbom-Herranen, Liisa (Univerza v Mariboru, 2014)The article focuses on SMS-messages as short letters in a Finnish daily newspaper, Salon Seudun Sanomat. A proverb is often included in the SMS-message. The analysis is based on Charles Briggs’s (1988) research on a ...
Between the old and the new : the impact of communal traditional values and practices on the cultural identity of young and old Basotho Beiroth, Ann Christin (2017)Lesotho, in Southern Africa, has long been neglected in communication research. To address this void, the present study investigates what traditional values and traditional rituals exist in today’s Lesotho, how important ...
The Human Right to Social Security and Its Impact on Socio-Political Action in Germany and Finland Stamm, Ingo (Springer International Publishing, 2017)Social human rights have rarely been given attention in social work research or comparative studies on welfare states. The paper aims at filling the gap by analysing the conception of human beings inherent in human rights ...