Research highlight

Conservation: Elephant capture reduces life span

Nature Communications

August 8, 2018

Wild Asian elephants captured for use in the logging industry in Myanmar have a shorter lifespan than those born in captivity according to a study in Nature Communications.

Although studies on the effects of captivity on life history are accumulating, less is known about the long-term difference between captive-born and wild-caught animals.

Mirkka Lahdenpera and colleagues used demographic records from 1951 to 2000 to study the life spans of 5,150 elephants in Myanmar timber camps. Following capture, wild elephants (2,072) were at a higher risk of death than those born in captivity (3,078) at all ages. This risk decreased by half approximately every two years following capture. The authors also found that the older elephants were at the time of capture, the greater their risk of death. More research is needed to see if other large mammals have a higher risk of death following capture compared to those born in captivity.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05515-8

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