Elephant orphans face added challenge: bullying
New research finds that poaching harms more than just the elephants who are killed.
Female elephant orphans face a hard-knock life compared to their counterparts with surviving mothers, and that doesn’t bode well for the species’ ability to bounce back from the poaching crisis, which kills some 30,000 elephants each year.
While youngsters whose mothers are killed by poachers may enjoy the protection of relatives, new research published in September in the journal Animal Behavior suggests that it doesn’t make up for the lack of nurturing by biological mothers.
“[Orphans] can adapt socially, but that misses the whole picture,” says Shifra Goldenberg, an international project manager working on elephant conservation at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the lead author of the study. “They might be grouping up with a family, and they might