Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Ecology of the Asian elephant in southern India. II. Feeding habits and crop raiding patterns

  • R. Sukumar (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

The Asian elephant's foraging strategy in its natural habitat and in cultivation was studied in southern India during 1981–83. Though elephants consumed at least 112 plant species in the study area, about 85% of their diet consisted of only 25 species from the order Malvales and the families Leguminosae, Palmae, Cyperaceae and Gramineae. Alteration between a predominantly browse diet during the dry season with a grass diet during the early wet season was related to the seasonally changing protein content of grasses.

Crop raiding, which was sporadic during the dry season, gradually increased with more area being cultivated with the onset of rains. Raiding frequency reached a peak during October-December, with some villages being raided almost every night, when finger millet (Eleusine coracana) was cultivated by most farmers. The monthly frequency of raiding was related to the seasonal movement of elephant herds and to the size of the enclave. Of their total annual food requirement, adult bull elephants derived an estimated 9.3% and family herds 1.7% in quantity from cultivated land. Cultivated cereal and millet crops provided significantly more protein, calcium and sodium than the wild grasses. Ultimately, crop raiding can be thought of as an extension of the elephant's optimal foraging strategy.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Altmann 1974. Observational study of behaviour: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227267.

P. N. Bax & D. L. W. Sheldrick 1963. Some preliminary observations on the food of elephants in the Tsavo Royal National Park (East) of Kenya. East African Wildlife Journal 1:4053.

G. E. Belovsky 1981. Food plant selection by a generalist herbivore: the moose. Ecology 62:10201030.

E. T. Clemens & M. O. Maloiy 1982. The digestive physiology of three East African herbivores: the elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus. Journal of Zoology (London) 198:141156.

H. W. Dougall , V. M. Drysdale & P. E. Glover 1964. The chemical composition of Kenya browse and pasture herbage. East African Wildlife Journal 2:86121.

C. R. Field 1971. Elephant ecology in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. East African Wildlife Journal 9:99123.

C. R. Field 1976. Palatability factors and nutritive values of the food of buffaloes (Synercus caffer) in Uganda. East African Wildlife Journal 14:115.

W. J. Freeland & D. H. Janzen 1974. Strategies in herbivory by mammals; the role of plant secondary compounds. American Naturalist 108:269289.

K. G. Mccullagh 1969. The growth and nutrition of the African elephant. II. The chemical nature of the diet. East African Wildlife Journal 7:9198.

K. G. Mccullagh 1973. Are African elephants deficient in essential fatty acids? Nature (London) 242:267268.

N. Owen-Smith 1982. Factors influencing the consumption of plant products by large herbivores. Pp. 359404 in B. J. Huntley & B. H. Walker (eds). Ecological studies, Vol 42: Ecology of tropical savannas. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

R. Sukumar & M. Gadgil 1988. Male-female differences in foraging on crops by Asian elephants. Animal Behaviour 36:12331235.

J. S. Weir 1973. Exploitation of water soluble soil sodium by elephants in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. East African Wildlife Journal 11:17.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords: