Experts claim that when foraging, endangered Asian elephants establish ‘teenage gangs’ to protect themselves from h.u.n.t.ers and farmers.
When entering places where there is a significant chance of human contact, such as agriculture or deforestation, juvenile animals establish all-male groups.
The amazing evolutionary progress not only protects them, but also ensures their fertility, according to the experts.
Young elephants’ bodies are more attractive to females than older elephants’, according to scientists, and congregating in groups makes them easier to view.
The National Institute for Advanced Studies in Bengaluru, India, did a revolutionary study based on an analysis of 1,445 pictures of 248 male individuals.
The photographs, which were taken over two years in southern India, show calves forming large groups of bulls as they approach forestless areas and farms.
Adult males were primarily solitary, in keeping with bull elephants’ reputation as antisocial loners. Immature calves mostly lived in mixed-s.e.x. .groups, whereas adult females were mostly solitary.
The research was led by elephant biologist Nishant Srinivasaiah, a PhD student at the institute.
‘Male Asian elephants are known to use a high-risk feeding strategy to boost their reproductive fitness by travelling into agricultural regions and feasting on nourishing crops,’ he said.
‘We expected that rising urbanization and often uncertain productive landscapes would entail the establishment of behavioral techniques that would allow male elephants to survive in such environments.’
Despite their widespread fame, the unusual creatures have previously been compared to gangsters.
Their way of life revolves around power, dominance, reverence and – most importantly – family.
The manner the males engage with one another has been compared to that of a ceremonial society, such as the Mafia.
The largest herds of juvenile elephants, according to Mr. Srinivasaiah, were found in areas with plenty of crops and water.
‘These individuals tended to be in better physical shape than lone adult males,’ he said.
This shows that gathering in young males is an adaptive behavior for improving fertility in resources where human contact is a high risk.’
It keeps them in’musth,’ the elephant name for the uneasy sensation they experience when chasing females owing to rising testosterone levels.
‘This method can help them retain decent body condition, allowing them to stay in musth for extended periods,’ Mr. Srinivasaiah added.
‘When in musth, these males wander in groups or singly in quest of reproductive females in deciduous woodland habitats, possibly to boost their chances of mating.’
‘We also discovered that when these guys were not in musth, they were mostly solitary in forest settings, which is consistent with past Asian elephant research.’
When male elephants reach maturity in Asian elephant culture, they frequently leave the family in pursuit of unrelated females to mate with in locations rich in food and drink, where they can establish themselves.
However, due to human activities, this is changing. The research was carried out in a region near large cities and towns, such as Bangalore, termed the “Silicon Valley of India.”
With population increase, agriculture, road construction, and urban sprawl, it has seen considerable land-use changes, all at the expense of forest cover and natural elephant habitats.
The researchers also revealed that groups of foragers on fertile land had decided to live together for a long time. This ‘risk management method’ helps people live longer.
They believe that better understanding elephant behavior will lessen conflict between humans and elephants, as well as avoid further extinction of threatened species.
‘We show that Asian elephants exhibit striking behaviors, including the development of stable, long-term all-male groups, often in places devoid of trees or heavily fragmented by humans,’ Mr. Srinivasaiah said.