Animal welfare (sometimes termed "well-being") is about feelings - states such as "suffering" or "contentment" that we can infer but cannot measure directly. Welfare indices have been developed from two main sources: studies of suffering humans, and of research animals deliberately subjected to challenges known to affect emotional state. We briefly review the resulting indices here, and discuss how well they are understood for elephants, since objective welfare assessment should play a central role in evidence-based elephant management.
The phenomenon of musth is a very stressful event, both behaviorally and physiologically. An ACTH stimulation test was conducted in four adult Asian bull elephants to investigate the possibility that the classical hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is active during musth, resulting in an increase in adrenally produced steroids. Serum cortisol, testosterone (T), androstenedione (A4), androstenediol (A5), and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were measured. Cortisol increased 3-10 times above baseline in response to ACTH stimulation, and DHEA doubled.
The present review explores sexual differentiation in three non-conventional species: the spotted hyena, the elephant and the tammar wallaby, selected because of the natural challenges they present for contemporary understanding of sexual differentiation. According to the prevailing view of mammalian sexual differentiation, originally proposed by Alfred Jost, secretion of androgen and anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) by the fetal testes during critical stages of development accounts for the full range of sexually dimorphic urogenital traits observed at birth.
Placental and fetal tissues were recovered from the uteri of 59 pregnant elephant that ranged in estimated age from day 18 to month 21 of gestation. Incubation of placenta and fetal gonad, alone or in combination, with tritium-labelled cholesterol, pregnenolone and androstenedione failed to yield any labelled progestagens or oestrogens from placenta, but did produce small amounts of labelled progesterone and 5alpha-dihydroprogesterone from fetal gonad.
Species richness and abundance of dung beetles were assessed across a range of bait types that acted as surrogates for the food resources available in Chobe National Park, Botswana. These bait types were comprised of the dung of pig (omnivore), cattle (ruminant herbivore dropping fine-fiberd pads), sheep (pellet-dropping ruminant herbivore), and elephant (monogastric, nonruminant herbivore producing coarse-fibered droppings), and chicken livers (carrion).