male asian elephants group all-male foraging agricultural area land food social behavior safety traveling together
male asian elephants group all-male foraging agricultural area land food social behavior safety traveling together

Image of the Day: Safety in Numbers

Male Asian elephants are forming long-term, all-male groups to forage in agricultural areas of India.

Chia-Yi Hou
Jul 22, 2019

ABOVE: Three male elephants walk towards a banana plantation in the outskirts of Bangalore, India.
FEP, NISHANT SRINIVASAIAH

Male Asian elephants are usually solitary or travel with mixed-sex groups through the forests of India, but biologists report that they are now forming long-term, all-male packs, in a study published in Scientific Reports on July 4. The researchers looked through nearly 1,500 photographs of 248 individual male elephants over a 23-month period and found that adolescent males formed large groups when they were in non-forested areas. 

Male Asian elephants sometimes put themselves at risk by foraging in agricultural areas where humans may hunt or attack them and this may be why the males are now traveling together, states the report. The photos also revealed that the adolescent males in groups looked healthier than solitary adult males.

N. Srinivasaiah et al., “All-male groups in Asian elephants: a novel, adaptive social...

Chia-Yi Hou is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at chou@the-scientist.com.


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male asian elephants group all-male foraging agricultural area land food social behavior safety traveling together

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