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Bull Behaviour Study: Sri Lanka Elephant & Leopard Conservation

Staff and international volunteers and interns observing elephant behaviourIt's an exciting time for observing the elephants here in Sri Lanka. Hormones are raging and the bulls are starting to fight for the reproductively active females. Bulls are observed forming alliances and coalitions against dominant bulls. Watch the video to see them in action!

Date: November 25, 2016

Time: 5 pm

The evening was gradually descending into dusk but it was still bright and sunny with a large gathering of elephants in the littoral plains of the WG Tank. Two females showed obvious signs of estrus and was attracting a large number of bulls of various ages and musth conditions. It was interesting to observe that some of these young mature bulls had formed coalitions and were ganging up against unfamiliar bulls of similar age.

The two musth bulls that had formed an allegiance to chase the dominant bu

At the same time, two dominant bulls in musth behaved in a similar manner by ganging up together to chase of a much larger and dominant bull in musth. Interestingly the coalition of three young mature bulls supported the two bulls by blocking the most dominant bull from accessing the female herd.

According to the prevailing understanding of elephant social and reproductive behavior the largest dominant bull in musth gets the opportunity to mate. It could be assumed from this incident that the less dominant males in musth formed allegiances with younger sub-dominant males. These bulls seem to obtain the support of younger mature bull coalitions to get rid of the larger dominant bulls to get access to estrus females. Further observations of bull behavior needs to be conducted to arrive at a definite conclusion.

The dominant bull stays in the periphery after being chased by the coalition of younger bulls

Watch a video of the Elephants in action here:

 Find out more about our Sri Lanka Elephant And Leopard Conservation Project here