Male vs Female Elephants
Male and female elephants are prime examples to show the differences between opposite sexes. The obvious differences between male and female morphology, anatomy, and physiology are not the only characters to separate elephants’ sexes, but also their distinctive behaviours are important. However, male and female calves are almost similar in their behaviours until the puberty, and then they start to be different. The main difference is the musth and oestrus in males and females respectively. Apart from these famed characters, other important and some unnoticed differences between males and females are discussed in this article.
Male elephants are often referred as bulls or bull elephants. They are famed for their aggression which gets elevated during the musth period. As Charles Darwin (1871) quotes, “No animal in the world is so dangerous as an elephant in musth”. During this period, testosterone secretion is very high causing too much of masculine behaviours. The temporal gland, between eye and ear, swells and secretes musth during this period. As the temporal glands on both sides of the head swell more, a terrible headache occurs, which would be almost as painful as a root abscess toothache. Earlier it was hypothesized that, the musth is an indication of readiness for mating with a female, but there is no synchronization observed with oestrus in females. However, the function of musth is unknown for people but, its strong smell must be signalling something to their neighbours in the wild. In the wild, elephants live in family groups and the males are chased out of the herd after puberty, in order to stop inbreeding. Therefore, males live a solitary life but, sometimes there are small bachelor groups. Interestingly, the homosexual males have been observed in both African and Asian wild elephants. Generally, males grow stronger and slightly bigger than the females as in most other animal species.
Cow is an often used term to refer the female elephants. Usually, a female reaches the puberty around 10 years but, recent studies on their reproductive biology have confirmed that normal oestrous cycling could start at five to six years of age, and additionally, recorded pregnancies at nine year old females. Although the cows have a temporal gland, musth condition does not occur. Elephants have the longest oestrus cycle and the gestation length. Oestrus cycle is 15 – 16 weeks long with two distinctive phases known as follicular and luteal. Ovulation occurs at the start of the luteal phase, and a male should mate during that period for a successful conceiving. The gestation lasts for about 22 months, and the calf is cared with the greatest concentration a cow could offer. Their caring for calves is irresistible as quoted in Fowler and Mikota (2006). Females live in herds and most of the social behaviours help them to be strong in the wild. Elder female is the matriarch of the family and she teaches the younger cows how to care for the calves and etc. It has also been observed that the herd living captive female elephants are more successful in breeding aspects viz. cycling, mating, caring of calves…etc.
Male Vs Female
John Donne, in 1601, referred elephants as a nature’s great masterpiece. Less aggression, family groups known as herds led by matriarch, oestrus cycling, and oestrus synchrony among family members to become pregnant together and care for each other’s calves, and all their interesting behaviours of females separate them from males.
Males are solitary, sometimes homosexual, aggressive, and often crop raiders in agricultural land are a little notorious.