Myanmar Timber Elephant Project

New paper out by Diogo Santos et al.: Sex differences in the reference intervals of health parameters in semicaptive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) from Myanmar

March 20, 2020


The reference intervals of health parameters are valuable tools for veterinarians and conservationists to monitor the health status and viability of endangered species. Natural variation in the health of the long-lived Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is poorly understood, particularly in relation to differences between males and females. Longitudinal health data were collected from clinical examination, hematology, and serum chemistry analyses over 3 yr from 227 healthy individually marked Asian elephants varying in age and sex. The study population was semicaptive and used in Myanmar’s timber industry, but maintained natural feeding and breeding behavior. Body condition score (BCS) and blood pressure were investigated in clinical examinations. Hematological parameters included hematocrit, hemoglobin, total white blood cell count, and differential blood cell counts. Serum chemistry parameters included blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, total protein, albumin, globulins, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, triglycerides, creatine kinase, glucose, calcium, potassium, sodium, and chloride. To the knowledge of the authors, this is the first description of BCS in an elephant population outside of zoos, and of blood pressure in this species using a novel adaptation of the Intelli Wrap Cuff pressure monitor. Several differences between the sexes were observed, with females generally having higher BCS and triglycerides, and males displaying higher alkaline phosphatase and glucose levels. This study provides important clinical tools that can be used to assess the health status and improve management in this endangered species.

Read more: J. of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, 51(1):25-38 (2020)