Translocation stress and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels in free-ranging African savanna elephants
South African Journal of Wildlife Research
There are local populations of African elephants (Loxodonta africana) which have increased to levels where they are implicated in altering vegetation types. The local reduction of elephant numbers for wildlife management objectives can involve contraception, killing excess animals, or translocation to alternative habitats. The effects these management decisions can have on the physiological stress response of free-ranging African savanna elephants are still not fully understood. We examined the effect of translocation on faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels of an African elephant family group,which was translocated within the Kruger National Park, South Africa. We found that translocation resulted in a significant increase in faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels (up to 646 ng/g wet weight) compared to (1) pre-translocation levels in this group, (2) post-translocation levels in this group, and (3) levels measured in undisturbed ‘control’ groups in the area. However, the faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels had returned to <100 ng/g by the time the translocated animals had navigated their way back to their previous home range, covering 300 km in 23 days.
Viljoen, J.J., Ganswindt, A., du Toit, J.T. & Langbauer, W.R. 2008. Translocation stress and faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels in free-ranging African savanna elephants. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 38(2):146-152