Capturing elephants to keep in captivity not only hinders their reproduction for over a decade, but also has a negative effect on their calves, according to a study on Asian pachyderms that may help improve conservation efforts.
Scientists from the University of Sheffield in the UK have found long-lasting negative effects on the reproduction of Asian elephants captured from the wild and kept in captivity.
Asian elephants caught from the wild were less likely to reproduce in their lifetime and started reproducing later, with these reductions lasting for over a decade, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
In the joint study with the University of Turku in Finland and the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), researchers also found that this had a negative effect on the next generation, with calves born to captured mothers having reduced survival rates.
About 16,000 Asian elephants are held in captivity in countries like Myanmar, India and Thailand, mainly used to drag logs in the timber industry or for tourism, researchers said.
To sustain these industries, elephants continue to be captured from the wild, but the long term impact of this for the elephants is less studied, they said.
With so many wild animals kept in captivity, often to try and protect threatened species, understanding how captivity affects animals in the long term is important to improve conservation efforts.