Assessing translocation outcome: Comparing behavioral and physiological aspects of translocated and resident African elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Noa Pinter-Wollman, Lynne A. Isbell, Lynette A Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Evaluating translocation outcomes is important for improving wildlife management and conservation actions. Often, when quick decisions need to be made and long-lived animals with slow reproduction rates are translocated, traditional assessment methods such as long-term survival and reproductive success cannot be used for assessing translocation outcomes. Thus, alternative, seldom used, measures such as comparing the behavior and physiology of translocated animals to those of local residents should be employed to assess the translocated animals' acclimation to their new home. Here we monitored the survival, physiology, and behavior of translocated African elephants (Loxodonta africana) and compared these measures to the local resident population at the release site. Adult male and female translocated elephants' death rates were higher than those of the local population. Furthermore, the mortality rate of translocated adult males and calves was greater than expected based on their proportion in the translocated elephant population. No difference was found in stress hormone levels between the two populations, but the body condition of the translocated elephants was significantly poorer than that of the local population throughout the study period. The behavioral time budgets of the translocated elephants converged with those of the local population over time. Finally, translocated elephants utilized habitat that was similar to their source site (hills and permanent rivers) more than did the local population. Based on these findings we recommend careful consideration of timing, release location, and individuals targeted in future elephant translocations. More broadly, we introduce and explore seldom used translocation assessment techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1116-1124
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Body condition
  • Habitat choice
  • Kenya
  • Management
  • Relocation
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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