Why some orphaned young elephants have become rogue elephants?

Picture of orphaned young elephants.

Elephant delinquents

“Like children, young elephants need discipline if they are to grow up as responsible members of society,” notes New Scientist.

“Wildlife biologists say that orphan bull elephants in South Africa’s Pilanesberg Game Reserve have turned delinquent because they have never been taken in hand by their elders.”

The rogue elephants have attacked humans, have gored to death 19 white rhinoceroses in the past three years, and have even tried to mate with rhinos.

Two humans were killed, including a professional hunter sent out to shoot an offending elephant after it had charged a group of tourists.

In each instance, the delinquent animal was from a group of young male elephants brought into the reserve from Kruger National Park after the rest of their herd was culled to control the size of the elephant population.

While a number of factors have placed stress on the elephants, scientists feel that the lack of discipline and nurturing from older animals, a dominant feature of the normal life of elephant families, is at least partly responsible for their wayward behavior.

Now, only whole elephant families will be moved so that the young bulls “will continue to receive the strict parental discipline they need,” says the article.