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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GRANDMOTHERS IN ASIAN ELEPHANT FAMILIES

A fascinating study has further confirmed the importance of multigenerational family structures among Asian elephants. Research has now evidenced that calves born into an environment where they have a grandmother are much more likely to survive and grow into adulthood. Not only this, but having grandmothers nearby also tends to mean shorter intervals between pregnancies for mothers, resulting in more regular breeding cycles and more calves being born.


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"Using a multigenerational demographic dataset on semi-captive elephants in Myanmar, we found that grandcalves from young mothers (<20 years) had 8 times lower mortality risk if the grandmother resided with her grandcalf compared to grandmothers residing elsewhere. Resident grandmothers also decreased their daughters’ inter-birth intervals by one year."

You can read the journal here and the article in Science Daily here.


This new information underlines the vast intelligence of elephants and the complexity and importance of their family and herd structures which directly impact their behaviours; even when it comes to procreation and raising calves.

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