Sociality is linked to stress in Asian elephants, according to an international team of researchers. For example, loneliness increased the stress level in male elephants, whereas having children present decreased the stress level in female elephants.
Group-living mammals experience social activities. It''s possible that individuals with friends or other strong social links may develop positive results such as improved health, increased life span, and a reduction of disease risk. These factors can be attributed to the effects of a decreased circulating glucocorticoid hormones.
What are the implications of social behavior on other species? We aim to examine the implications of human and non-human primates'' mechanisms in long-lived animals. Asian elephants, one of the world''s largest terrestrial mammals, have a very complex social life.
"We investigated four major aspects of the social world of 95 Asian timber elephants living in their natural habitat in Myanmar. These elephants work in the timber industry, where they pull and push logs out of the forest. This is not the case in fully captive farms, however, in the same time, we can monitor many elephants living in their natural environment. "We are very fortunate to have a thorough understanding of their social lives," said DrMartin Seltmann, the lead author of the study.
Elephants appear to be more concerned about being equities as humans.
Every elephant works with an elephant handler, and this relationship can last a lifetime. Decommendation is important for an elephant handler, who is able to provide more detailed information on its social interactions with other animals.
From 2014 to 2018, scientists asked the handlers if their elephants have friends or if they prefer to stay alone. Besides, the development of the elephants working groups was based on the number of males and females involved in the work group, and on the number of baby elephants found there.
"We found that male elephants have higher levels of stress when they have no friends, and when they are in social networks with more males than females." Martin Seltmann and professorVirpi Lummaa, the co-author of the study, said the size of the social group is not related to stress hormones in males nor females.
Because wild elephant females spend their lives with other female relatives, the researchers believe strong male social bonds may be more beneficial in a semi-captive manner than in purely wild elephants. Unlike male elephants, solitary females might still be able to interact with other individuals without forming strong social bonds, which indicates that the lack of those bonds might not be perceived as a stress.
Sociality may have large implications for the benefits of social interactions among mammals, according to these findings. They may also assist with developing techniques to maintain and improve the welfare of captive social animals.