Elephant memory

African elephants that have lived through the trauma of a cull-or selected killing of their kin–may look normal enough to the casual observer, but socially they are a mess.

That’s the conclusion of a new study, the first to show that human activities can disrupt the social skills of large-brained mammals that live in complex societies for decades.

The finding, experts say, has implications for conservation management, which often solely focuses on the number of animals in a population, and may
extend to chimpanzees, dolphins, whales, and other species.

“It is a groundbreaking study, because it is the first to demonstrate, experimentally, a direct connection between the effects of culling and specific psychosocial harms,” says Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and expert
on dolphin behavior at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved with the research.

“It shows unequivocally that elephants are psychologically damaged by culling.”

Wildlife officials often used culling as a conservation tool in South Africa from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Mass Killings Can Haunt Elephants For Decades by Virginia Morrell

An Elephant, Rembrandt, charcoal on paper, 1637 (http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/an-elephant-1637)

An Elephant, Rembrandt, charcoal on paper, 1637 (http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/rembrandt/an-elephant-1637)

2 responses to “Elephant memory

  1. We know that selected killing can adversely affect humans for decades, if not generations. We have known this fact for centuries. How can we just be coming to this conclusion for other large-brained, social animals? We are an arrogant species.

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