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Reading: A paradigm shift in the management of musth among bull elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka

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A paradigm shift in the management of musth among bull elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka

Authors:

Charles Santiapillai ,

Department of Zoology, University of Peradeniya, LK
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Bruce Read,

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, Polk City, Florida, US
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Gary Jacobson,

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, Polk City, Florida, US
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S Wijeyamohan,

Postgraduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, LK
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Sunel Rambukpotha

The Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, LK
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Abstract

The phenomenon of musth among Asian elephants has been known since ancient times. Musth is a temporary post-pubertal, reproductive phenomenon commonly observed in the healthy male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) both in the wild and in captivity. However, the treatment of musth bulls in Asia has remained almost unchanged. The traditional way of dealing with musth bulls involves restraining the animals by tethering them to trees and reducing the food intake so as to weaken them, with the assumption that they would drop out of musth faster. But such methods can cause severe wounds on the legs from the ropes used to tie the animals, and make the bulls more aggressive and traumatic, thereby posing a serious danger to their keepers or mahouts. The alternative method described in the paper provides a strong, safe, and secure tool for the management of musth bulls in captivity. The method not only assures the safety of the bulls but ensures that of the mahouts as well. Being a predominantly Buddhist country, Sri Lanka can lead the way in promoting the bull pen as an alternative tool in the management of bulls in musth, while assuring the utmost safety of their keepers.  

Key words: musth, Asian elephant, mahouts, bull pen, Elephas maximus

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/cjsbs.v40i1.3404

CJSBS 2011; 40(1): 25-32   

How to Cite: Santiapillai, C. et al., (2011). A paradigm shift in the management of musth among bull elephants in captivity in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Sciences). 40(1), pp.25–32. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cjsbs.v40i1.3404
Published on 24 Aug 2011.
Peer Reviewed

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