Concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in physically injured free-ranging African elephants Loxodonta africana

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dc.contributor.author Ganswindt, Andre
dc.contributor.author Munscher, Stefanie
dc.contributor.author Henley, Michelle
dc.contributor.author Palme, Rupert
dc.contributor.author Thompson, P.N. (Peter N.)
dc.contributor.author Bertschinger, H.J. (Hendrik Jan)
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-03T08:21:33Z
dc.date.available 2011-06-03T08:21:33Z
dc.date.issued 2010-06
dc.description.abstract Free-ranging African elephants Loxodonta africana use their front feet frequently during the process of foraging and this could be the reason for the high prevalence of physical injuries to these parts of the body. Although the occurrence of severe lameness caused by foot lesions in adult elephants has already been investigated and the clinical and pathological findings have been reported, the effect of foot injuries on glucocorticoid levels as a potential physiological stress response has not been examined. Given the practical difficulties involved in monitoring unpredictable events in free-ranging animals, like the occurrence of foot injuries in elephants, it is not surprising that information regarding the endocrine correlates of physical injury is still limited for elephants. In our study we investigated the effects of foot injuries on concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (GCM), body condition score (BCS) and reproductive behaviour in two GPS/radio-collared elephant bulls in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.Wemonitored the bulls aged 40+ (Bull 1) and 30+ (Bull 2) 2-3 times per week for 13 months starting in June 2007 and frequently collected faecal samples for non-invasive hormone monitoring. Faecal samples were lyophilised, extracted and assayed with an enzyme immunoassay which detects GCM with a 3a-hydroxy-11-oxo-structure. Both bulls acquired foot injuries (right-front), which caused temporary lameness, but the effect of injury on GCM concentration differed between bulls (P , 0.001). In Bull 1 the injury lasted 6 250 days and was associated with an up to four-fold increase in GCM concentrations (P,0.001) and his BCS reduced from ’good’ to ’very thin’ by the end of the injury period. In Bull 2 the injury lasted 65 days and was associated with a smaller increase in GCM concentrations (P ¼ 0.03) together with a reduced loss in condition when compared to Bull 1. Following recovery, the condition of both bulls improved progressively and faecalGCMreturned to baseline concentrations. Collectively, the data clearly underlined the value of non-invasive hormone measurements as a tool to provide information on the level of stress experienced by elephants. Thus, monitoring GCM levels could help improve the assessment of an elephant’s state of health. en
dc.identifier.citation Ganswindt, A, Munscher, S, Henley, M, Palme, R, Thompson, P & Bertschinger, H 2010, 'Concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in physically injured free-ranging African elephants Loxodonta africana', Wildlife Biology, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 323-332. [www.wildlifebiology.com] en
dc.identifier.issn 0909-6396
dc.identifier.other 10.2981/09-081
dc.identifier.other 6507085906
dc.identifier.other 7403220452
dc.identifier.other G-9856-2014
dc.identifier.other J-2534-2013
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/16706
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Nordic Council for Wildlife Research en
dc.rights © Wildlife Biology, NKV en
dc.subject Cortisol en
dc.subject Enzyme immunoassay en
dc.subject Injury en
dc.subject Kruger National Park (South Africa) en
dc.subject Stress en
dc.subject.lcsh African elephant (Loxodonta africana) en
dc.subject.lcsh Glucocorticoids en
dc.title Concentrations of faecal glucocorticoid metabolites in physically injured free-ranging African elephants Loxodonta africana en
dc.type Article en


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