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Males of many species slow down in their pursuit of females as they age. Not so with elephants. A new study published today reveals that bull elephants increase the energy they put into reproduction as they get older.
The new research conducted by the University of Oxford, Save the Elephants and Colorado State University, compared the movements of male African savannah elephants while they were in musth, a periodic state of intensive testosterone-fueled sexual activity, and when they were not. The results reveal that, as they age, male elephants move more in musth and move less out of musth. The combination of these two diverging factors meant that, despite having similar speeds and range sizes between states at age 20, by age 50 males were traveling twice as fast in 3.5 times larger area in musth compared to non-musth.
Investigation - Dr - Lucy - Taylor - University
The investigation, led by Dr. Lucy Taylor at the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology, used a combination of visual observations and GPS tracking data from 25 male elephants aged between 20-52 years old. The data was collected in the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Northern Kenya, as part of Save the Elephants' long-term monitoring project between 2000 and 2018.
Male African savannah elephants continue to increase in body mass throughout their lives, which means that older male elephants often reach twice the size of both females and young males.
Iain - Douglas-Hamilton - Founder - Save - Elephants
Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder of Save the Elephants and Senior Research Associate at the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology, said: "Older bulls are not only larger and more energetic in mating than younger bulls but female elephants tend to prefer them, perhaps because their size demonstrates their survival skills over many years and seasons."
The new results suggest that...
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