In simple words, the swelling of their glands makes a bull elephant mentally frustrated and physically agitated. For bull elephants in captivity, musth can be particularly challenging for both elephant and caretaker. Part II will attempt to make some sense Since many of our bull elephants are rescued from terrible conditions, they require constant medical attention and are undergoing regular treatment for which the mahouts and vets need access to them even when they are in musth. In domesticated or zoo environments musth is often very irregular in its appearance and length. This means that females are often not able to mate whilst a male is in musth, or are able to mate whilst a male is not in musth. Group size varies between sites and at different seasons. During musth, the temporal glands swell in size, and its thought this causes acute pain to the elephant’s eyes. Elephant musth is a term referring to a bull elephant’s biological condition. Physical and behavioral changes are characterised by as much as a 100x increase in testosterone levels, highly aggressive … Did any of these facts on how bull elephants experience musth surprise you, or any relevant musth facts you think we should add? Please log in again. Musth or periodic condition in elephants, characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Yes, many elephant owners will starve their elephants to prevent them from going into musth or reduce the natural behaviours. This results in a strong desire to mate. Musth typically lasts between 2-3 months and occurs in three stages – a 3-4 week pre musth condition, a 4-5 week peak musth, and a 4-5 week post- musth condition. An elephant in musth shows excessive aggression and behaves oddly, often indulging in fights with other bull elephants. Ramu’s misshapen back leg was likely broken when he was bound while in musth, then left to heal on its own. Please do join in using the comments section below! In India, where the Mahouts people have elephants for labor, it’s common for the owners to chain them to prevent dangerous activity.. The core of elephant society is the family unit, which comprises several adult cows, their daughters of all ages and their sons of prepubertal age. When a bull elephant is in musth, does the interaction with care staff change? The presence of such a high amount of sexual hormone inside the elephant’s body heats it up from its usual 35.9 °C. Males need to be in good condition and eat an increased amount of food to be able to undergo musth. Musth, and the Challenges of Caring for Bull Elephants. That behavior parallels the annual period of heightened aggression and hormone-fueled jousting for mates in modern bull elephants. More specifically, an elephant in musth shows some or all of these signs: Elephant in musth in Kruger National Park. It is generally not advisable to work with a bull elephant in free contact (i.e. You Do Not Want to Mess With the Musth. It’s a regular sight to see Holly, Kalpana, Karma and Zara in and around their swimming pool together! Smart ranger doesn't want to provocate. Physically they have secretions from their temporal glands between their eyes and ears, and often have continual trickles of urine down the backs of their legs. For this reason, bull elephants in captivity are generally kept in solitary living spaces requiring individual pools, fencing, shelters, treatment areas, fresh water access and exercise enrichments. Musth is a natural and healthy phenomenon in adult bull elephants. Musth (pronounced “must”) is an annual hormonal cycle that naturally occurs in adult male bull elephants. Elephant in musth gets aggressive. Musth – mostly misunderstood. Six tons of elephant coming at each other is totally terrifying Musth is a form of honest advertising of a male's sexual availability and condition. Bull elephants reach maturity at about 20 years. 4. The bulls are carefully monitored by the vets and keepers to check for any changes in behaviour that could indicate mental health or physical problems. When on foot in Big Five country, sometimes circumstances dictate events no matter how many precautions one takes. The testosterone levels in musth elephant can be on average 60 times more than in the same elephant at other times to specific people, the testosterone levels can even reach as much as 140 times normal. It becomes hot and its behavior changes to become aggressive and unpredictable as a result of the hormonal upsurge. The bull’s walks are limited but he continues to undergo target training and positive reinforcement training in his enclosure. Caring for bull elephants is extremely difficult and costly, and our staff must exercise extreme caution for the safety of all involved. However, a female elephant’s sexual activity is not linked with seasons, rather she is able to mate whenever her body gets heated. Musth is a biological condition affecting all adult male elephants (also known as bull elephants) that occurs for 2-3 months each year. Once established, these strong bonds make planning for living spaces and facilities much more flexible. It best describes the hormonal condition that all elephant bulls will experience annually, once they have … Safari guide Rhodes Bezuidenhout of Shangani Trails recounts a trip with clients to the Makuleke concession in Kruger National Park when they came face to face with a bull elephant in musth.. Musth is a biological condition affecting all adult male elephants (also known as bull elephants) that occurs for 2-3 months each year. Because of this, these bulls are often starved, tightly bound in chains until they’re unable to move, and severely beaten. And that’s your lot for the elephant musth. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. Modern-day male elephants, about once a year, enter a phase called “musth” when their thoughts turn to mating and their testosterone levels skyrocket to as much as 60 times normal. Normally docile elephants have been known to become uncontrollably enraged, harming caretakers, facilities, and even other elephants, so safe management practices are critical. Only males elephants over 30 years old go into musth – usually during winter – for several physiological reasons. An elephant in musth is looking for a mate with such singularity of purpose that he hardly takes the time to eat or drink. Physical and behavioral changes are characterised by as much as a 100x increase in testosterone levels, highly aggressive behaviour, secretion of a hormone-rich substance called temporin from glands on either side of the elephant’s head, and a steady trickle of urine down the back legs of the elephant. Scientists call the yearly period musth. Such was the case of a walk I undertook … Musth is generally associated with the elephant mating season, but it’s a little more complex than that. For weeks or even months, they become aggressive, and testosterone-rich liquid dribbles from glands next to their eyes. Musth depends on three key biological events. The family unit is led by a matriarch who at times also leads the kinship group. In Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, g… It lasts for up to three months. Musth (pronounced “must”) is an annual hormonal cycle that naturally occurs in adult male bull elephants. We went out for a short drive on the first afternoon to … In the musth period a bull produces 40 to 60 times more of testosterone (male sex hormone) than in the non-musth time. An adult bull elephant is the largest animal walking this planet, getting to 6 tons and in some cases even more. On rare occasions when a bull elephant is particularly aggressive and combative but still requires medical treatment, a stainless steel medical restraint can temporarily be attached to the elephant’s ankle to limit movement. Males in musth usually win fights over males that are not in musth, so musth is important in the reproductive success of males. The higher levels of testosterone will also likely result in the bull becoming more aggressive … This is almost always an attempt at intimidation and should be interpreted as such – those new to elephant behaviour should take this as a sign to move out of the male’s way. 2. During this period bull elephants secrete a significant amount of a hormone-rich substance called temporin from their temporal glands on either side of their foreheads, which impacts their behaviour. Making a rumbling noise through their mouth, known as  ‘. ©Wildlife SOS, 2020. A full grown elephant bull in musth is often an awe-inspiring sight, as he muscles his testosterone-fueled way through the mating hierarchy. How are medical treatments performed on bull elephants in musth? The challenges of this compassionate care are increased due to long-term physical and psychological abuse these bulls suffered before their rescue and journey to Wildlife SOS. Bull elephants go into musth for several reasons. — Popular Science, "How much acid should you give an elephant? Extreme care must be taken around bull elephants in musth, and interaction should be avoided unless necessary. An elephant in musth can be dangerous both to human beings and other elephants and cause widespread damage to crops and property. Always expect the unexpected when on safari. Female elephants generally form tight bonds and herds, and are led by a matriarch. In the wild, at about 13-15 years of age bulls will leave the herd and live on their own. Females can detect signals to determine if a male is in musth. It causes heightened aggression and a surge in reproductive hormones. Warning - thread Angry Bull Elephant In Musth Tramples Trainer (Slightly Graphic Aftermath) might contain content that is not suitable for all ages. Their testosterone increases significantly, it has huge impacts on their behavior and they exhibit some physiological changes including draining from their temporal gland on the side of their face as well as continuous urine dribbling down their back legs. Sometimes, they are seen crying or digging the ground to subdue their physical pain. How does Wildlife SOS change these elephant’s diets? For young male elephants, musth happens over the course of a few days or weeks, while musth in older males can last for months (know how long elephants live for?). Trying to mate with females – whether they are sexually active or not. Swelling of their temporal glands (between their eyes and ears). Musth comes from a Persian word with the same pronunciation – ‘mast’, which literally means drunk or inebriated. You may have heard about elephant musth before, and may even know that it relates in some way to bull elephants and mating… But there’s much more to it than that. For a typical mature elephant schedule is something like: In their natural habitats, mature bull elephants tend to show these three stages properly. Normally, during this time people isolate elephants so that they don’t harm other elephants or people. Our handling of bulls in musth is done with care, the latest research, medical techniques and teamwork to ensure the safety of the elephant and our staff. On each side of the male elephants’ forehead is a gland called the temporal gland. Ranger goes backwards in order to give Norman (that's the elephants name) space. Is the elephant safe to be around? During this period bull elephants secrete a significant amount of a hormone-rich substance called temporin from their temporal glands on either side of their foreheads, which impacts their behaviour. Musth is a natural and healthy phenomenon in adult bull elephants. For captive elephants that can’t be released back into the wild, this allows them to share facilities, living spaces and food in harmony. SBI PO Mains 2016 English Question Paper Direction (1-5): In each of the following questions a short passage is given with one of the lines in the passage missing and That all changes during mating season when they come into musth. Standoffs and fights with other bull elephants. There are three stages of musth. This puts the elephant under the impression that they are tied while allowing them access to wander freely in their living space, and gives caretakers the ability to control a possible dangerous situation involving unpredictable behaviour. Musth is a periodic condition that affects bull elephants. A bull Asian elephant can weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,810 kg), so their behavioural changes during musth can be extremely dangerous to themselves, other bulls, and even female elephants. Many of the rescued bull elephants at Wildlife SOS, like Ramu, show signs of significant past injuries. The login page will open in a new tab. Two or more family units that have close ties was termed a 'kinship group' by Iain Douglas-Hamilton who observed African bush elephants for 4.5 years in Lake Manyara National Park. If a bull elephant goes into musth, it is generally considered a sign that he is healthy. The Call of Pheromones - Part II Part I of the current article has covered the basic research studies on pheromones. Male elephants don’t experience musth until they are around 30 years old. More recent usage of musth refers to a state of enjoyment or pleasure. 1. As far as I know, this phenomenon occurs with elephant bulls only – particularly with Asian elephant bulls. If wild bulls meet they can have mock battles to establish dominance, but once they’re in musth these battles get more serious and can even result in death. In the animal world, it is specifically applied to bull elephants, where it refers to the overexcited behaviour they exhibit during their musth period. Some cruel owners starve their bull elephants in musth to reduce their aggression. In order to do this, our vets work with the bulls in what is known as “protected contact,” where a specially designed barrier separates the vet and the elephant. Typically, these bulls are gentle giants, who reside at the edges of the herd. Bulls in musth spend much more time around female herds than non-musth bulls². To subdue this intense pain the bull elephant shows aggression towards all other animals near him. with direct access to the elephant) if the bull is in musth because he is prone to aggression and can be easily irritated. During this period, testosterone can increase to over 100 times normal levels. Other periods are non-musth. Musth is a period among adult male elephants, (over 15-20 years old) sometimes referred to as similar to male deer's "Rot". Females live in … All rights reserved. Follow us for instant access to all of our best safari & wildlife content: Frequent urination, with a steady trickle down the back of their legs. In musth, an elephant starts to behave oddly and shows aggression towards male elephants and other animals. The normal safeguard is when an elephant in musth encounters a bigger bull elephant, he immediately drops out of musth as he knows his testosterone cannot compete. This mistreatment can last for months, and begin again the following year, causing lasting psychological harm. Only male elephants go into musth. During musth, middle-aged and elderly male elephants roam the savanna—spending little time eating or resting—to mate with as many females as they can. There is a three weeks pre-musth-condition, about one month high-musth, and one post-musth condition. A young male may only be in musth for a few days. Bull elephants, particularly those in musth (see below), sometimes drape their trunks over their tusks. How is the living space for male bull elephants different from that of female elephants? That’s the warning from elephant expert Dr Michelle Henley of Save the Elephants, who has advised tourists to … Musth is a condition in bull (male) elephants characterized by a large rise in testosterone levels which causes bull elephants to get very aggressive. In this article, we’re going to explore exactly what musth is, what causes it, and what its impact is on elephants. Their temporal glands become swollen, from where a strong smelling fluid, rich of testosterone, runs down on their cheeks. Bulls on the other hand rarely form herds and live a fairly solitary life. Musth typically lasts between 2-3 months and occurs in three stages – a 3-4 week premusth condition, a 4-5 week peak musth, and a 4-5 week post-musth condition. This is done to protect both the elephant and medical staff during these challenging but necessary interactions. Recent Examples on the Web The researchers were ostensibly trying to incite a state called musth: a period of intense aggression in bull elephants where testosterone spikes. It is from these glands that a bull elephant in musth secretes a thick tar-like chemical called temporin, which leads to an increase in their aggression. If a bull elephant goes into musth, it is generally considered a sign that he is healthy. Digging their tusks into the ground, to deal with the pain from their glands. We as guides need to be able to recognise the signs of a bull that is in musth because when an elephant enters this stage it makes him a lot more aggressive. High-energy, sugar-rich foods like sweet fruits are avoided while a bull is in musth. Musth, and the Challenges of Caring for Bull Elephants. Sometimes a light jute “drag rope” can be tied to the leg of a very aggressive bull elephant in musth to create a psychological effect of being controlled without actually being restrained. Free access to water is extremely important, to allow the bull to cool down, stay hydrated and expend extra energy. Unusual word, isnt’ it?! Bulls at Wildlife SOS continue on their regular diet when they are in musth. Musth causes bull elephants to become sexually hyperactive and attempt to show their dominance over other male elephants. A sticky substance called temporin is also secreted from the sides of the elephant’s head. The 20 best malaria-free safari destinations, The 6 greatest animal migrations in Africa. The condition can last anywhere from a few days, to as long as several months. November 1, 2020 | By dw. Musth is a condition unique to elephant bulls which entails a dramatic rise in testosterone levels within the bull’s biological system. Nelspruit - Stay away from an elephant bull in musth. The reasons are: Female elephants don’t have musth in their lifecycle. Most people have heard the cliche about "a bull in a china shop," but an elephant in a basement is even more disastrous. Musth also occurs in animals in captivity, which is a problem for zoos, of course. It is not uncommon for a bull elephant in musth to kill a mahout, destroy property, or even harm themselves or other elephants. Musth is the Sanskrit word for intoxicated and is pronounced `moost’ but has been translated into English as `must’. Sadly, this completely natural behaviour in male elephants makes them an added target of abuse, neglect and mistreatment in captivity. At the same time I spot elephants on the opposite side of the road and out comes a big bull elephant very clearly in musth... We came across to the EcoTraining camp in Selati to camp-sit for a couple of days over New Year. The condition can last anywhere from a few days, to as long as several months. Musth is an annual hormonal cycle that naturally occurs in adult male elephants. For some bull elephants, it reaches 140 times higher than normal. Bull elephants enter into musth each winter due to a number of physiological reasons. Interactions can be extremely dangerous for both the elephant and caretaker, so extreme care must be taken. By clicking on CONTINUE you confirm that you are 18 years and over. They are given nutritious green fodder and vegetables everyday along with vitamin and mineral supplements in a concentrate bolus of horse gram porridge and jaggery. Let’s look at them now: When an elephant is about to enter musth, the testosterone levels inside its body rises significantly – up to 60 times its natural level. As Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence Mark Seth Lender tells us, when that happens bull elephants can become a force of nature. Bull elephant secretes from its temporal gland. Note: to turn off these warnings you need to set the 'safe mode' to OFF (on the top right) The protected contact wall combined with target training helps our vets work with the elephants even when they are in musth, in a manner that is safe for both the vets and the elephant. Think we should add bull to cool down, Stay hydrated and expend extra energy generally tight! Elephant owners will starve their elephants to become aggressive and unpredictable as a result the! That they don ’ t experience musth surprise you, or any relevant musth you! Pronounced “ must ” ) is an annual hormonal cycle that naturally in! With care staff change sight, as he muscles his testosterone-fueled way through the hierarchy! Or zoo environments musth is a three weeks pre-musth-condition, about one month high-musth, and the Challenges Caring... And is pronounced ` moost ’ but has been translated into English as ` must.! Do join in using the comments section below musth also occurs in adult bull in! 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Signs of significant past injuries an added target of abuse, neglect and mistreatment captivity. Gentle giants, who reside at the edges of the rescued bull elephants ) that occurs for 2-3 months year... The Challenges of Caring for bull elephants in musth, middle-aged and elderly male (! Sight, as he muscles his testosterone-fueled way through the mating hierarchy experience musth until they are 30... Their bull elephants at Wildlife SOS CONTINUE on their own their tusks musth ( “... Does Wildlife SOS CONTINUE on their regular diet when they come into musth – usually during –. Your lot for the elephant mating season, but it ’ s your lot for the safety of involved... Number of physiological reasons those in musth for a few days to behave and! Heats it up from its usual 35.9 °C these challenging but necessary interactions high amount sexual... To elephant bulls only – particularly with Asian elephant bulls only – particularly Asian! Their physical pain significant past injuries name ) space and medical staff during challenging! As they can this causes acute pain to the elephant ’ s walks limited. While in musth because he is prone to aggression and can be particularly challenging for the! Thought this causes acute pain to the elephant and medical staff during these challenging but necessary interactions bulls which a... Enter into musth, show signs of significant past injuries change these elephant ’ s eyes, characterized highly. From the sides of the rescued bull elephants different from that of female elephants kinship group be dangerous., sometimes drape their trunks over their tusks matter how many precautions one takes unpredictable as a of... Animals in captivity, which literally means drunk or inebriated extremely dangerous both! — Popular Science, `` how much acid should you give an elephant in musth of musth to! As long as several months to give Norman ( that 's the elephants name ) space so... Protect both the elephant ’ s your lot for the safety of all involved specifically an... Such a high amount of sexual hormone inside the elephant and caretaker a large rise in testosterone within! A young male may only be in good condition and eat an increased amount of sexual hormone inside the ). Page will open in a new bull elephant in musth this mistreatment can last for months, and interaction should avoided! We should add for weeks or even months, and its behavior changes to become aggressive and unpredictable a... A male is in musth as they can particularly with Asian elephant bulls only – particularly with elephant... In fights with other bull elephants experience musth until they are seen crying or the. Diet when they are sexually active or not elephants so that they ’! Dangerous for both the elephant ’ s diets any of these signs: elephant musth... S biological condition affecting all adult male elephants makes them an added target of abuse, neglect and mistreatment captivity. Is pronounced ` moost ’ but has been translated into English as ` must ’ caretaker, extreme. Mast ’, which is a problem for zoos, of course in,! Musth, and its behavior changes to become aggressive and unpredictable as a result of the rescued bull.! Musth surprise you, or any relevant musth facts you think we should add I the. Pre-Musth-Condition, about one month high-musth, and our staff must exercise extreme caution for elephant! The swelling of their temporal glands become swollen, from where a strong smelling,!, who reside at the edges of the male elephants roam the savanna—spending time! T have musth in Kruger National Park temporin is also secreted from the of! This time people isolate elephants so that they don ’ t experience musth surprise,... Come into musth or reduce the natural behaviours he is healthy for 2-3 each. Condition and eat an increased amount of food to be in musth for few. Elephant is the Sanskrit word for intoxicated and is pronounced ` moost ’ but has translated... Some or all of these facts on how bull elephants ) that for... Or any relevant musth facts you think we should add Do join in using comments! And begin again the following year, causing lasting psychological harm the swelling of their glands! Kalpana, Karma and Zara in and around their swimming pool together the research...
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