The release of a captive-raised female African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Kate E Evans, Randall J Moore, Stephen Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
367 Downloads (Pure)


Wild female elephants live in close-knit matrilineal groups and housing captive
elephants in artificial social groupings can cause significant welfare issues for individualsnot accepted by other group members. We document the release of a captive-raised female elephant used in the safari industry because of welfare and management problems. She was fitted with a satellite collar, and spatial and behavioural data were collected over a 17-month period to quantify her interactions with the wild population. She was then monitored infrequently for a further five-and-a-half years. We observed few signs of aggression towards her from the wild elephants with which she socialized. She used an area of comparable size to wild female elephants, and this continued to increase as she
explored new areas. Although she did not fully integrate into a wild herd, she had three calves of her own, and formed a social unit with another female and her calf that were later released from the same captive herd. We recommend that release to the wild be considered as a management option for other captive female elephants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-385
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2013


  • African elephants
  • animal welfare
  • captive management
  • GPS
  • matrilineal groups
  • ranging behaviour
  • release to the wild
  • social behaviour


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