The Troubled Teenage Elephants Who Terrorized Rhinos

Chuck Banner | January 23rd, 2017
ytimg.com
ytimg.com

In the wildlife preserves of South Africa, the African elephant and the white rhinoceros normally coexist fairly peacefully. The southern white rhino, a species which is near-endangered mostly due to their being a target for poachers seeking the ivory of their tusks, had been thriving under conservation measures in South Africa’s parks. After nearly going extinct in the 20th century with only 20 total individuals remaining on Earth, the population has drastically rebounded to about 17,000 individuals in the wild since trophy hunting was regulated in 1968. Right now, South Africa holds about 93 percent of the world’s southern white rhinos. But about twenty years ago, biologists at Pilanesberg Game Reserve noticed a strange phenomenon: they found almost 40 rhinos dead, all at once. And it definitely didn’t look like the work of a poacher, because all of the tusks remained intact. So who or what was behind these suspicious killings?

After looking into the situation, biologists realized that a group of male, juvenile elephants was to blame. A few ill-behaved young males had started attacking rhinos out of pure aggression, and eventually more followed suit. They then formed a sort of elephant gang which continued to terrorize and murder rhinos until researchers caught onto what was happening. When they did, they began to investigate by photographing the scenes of the killings and compiling a list of elephant suspects, who were all put on surveillance.

Sure, the elephants were juvenile delinquents, but it turns out that it wasn’t completely their fault. The phenomenon has a clear link back to a wildlife conservation blunder twenty years earlier. Kruger National Park, in the northeastern corner of South Africa, had become grossly overpopulated with elephants. With no way to relocate them, researchers finally decided to kill off the adults and spare the juveniles. But little did they know at the time that killing off all of the mature adult elephants would create an elephant-sized problem: an entire generation of juveniles grew up essentially without parental supervision, and they never learned how to behave properly around others. Another interesting discovery was that all of the troubled males suffered from an excess of testosterone, probably caused by pressure to be sexually active at a young age, since there were no older males higher up on the mating hierarchy to keep them in check.

The solution? Researchers brought in a group of older male, bull elephants (in huge, speciallydesigned trucks) to watch over the teenagers and to keep them in their place. The results were clear: after the bulls arrived, there were no more spontaneous rhino attacks, and even the ringleaders of the “elephant gang” cleaned up his act and stopped harassing rhinos. Looks like the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” definitely holds true where elephants are concerned.

Next Article
  • Olympics Athletes Are Zapping Their Brain For Performance Increases

    A strange phenomenon is taking over the sports industry at an alarming pace, one that sees professional athletes zapping their brain in name of increasing their performance. The technology uses brain simulation with the goal of increasing everything an Olympic athlete needs to grab that gold medal. The basic explanation...

    Read More
  • The Sea Creature That Eats Its Own Brain

    There is one little creature that lives in tidal pools and over shallow ocean areas, that has a rather strange and fascinating characteristic: it eats its own brain. The sea squirt is a little undersea animal which is part of the tunicate family. Whenever poked or threatened, this small animal...

    Read More
  • Pokemon Go A Security Fear For The Pentagon

    If you happen to love Pokemon Go but work for the American government at the Pentagon, well that is just too bad. All employees are banned from playing Pokemon Go inside the Pentagon walls, due to its mapping features. Anyone working at the facility in Arlington, Virginia has been given...

    Read More
  • The Infamous Porthemmet Beach Hoax

    In some regions of the world no matter how much the local area survives off tourism, there is just a general distaste for tourists in general. All these strangers tramping around your Townsquare asking for directions, one of those places in Wales. With all the coastlines and beautiful beaches, locals can tend to get very...

    Read More
  • A Castaway Who Survived 14 Months At Sea

    One man defied all the odds and was able to survive lost at sea for over 14 months. This is no story of being washed up on an island and finding coconuts, this man just drifted around the ocean for months on end. He is called Jose Salvador Alvarenga and...

    Read More
  • The Romans Actually Invented The Swiss Army Knife

    When you think of the Swiss Army Knife you would have thought it was invented in Switzerland - and it was, unless you count Roman’s version as the first one. A spoon, a knife, a fork, and toothpick - all the tools you need to extract the meat out of the shells of seafood. This...

    Read More
  • Seagulls Are Able To Drink Salt And Freshwater

    When you are at the beach you may have seen some gulls drinking from the ocean and wondered how they could possibly do it. Seagulls can steal your sandwich at the beach and even been known to invade hotel rooms via a balcony just for some food, yet these mischief makers have one key talent...

    Read More
  • Nazi Scientists Were Building An Actual Death Star

    When you hear about death stars or flying saucers, your mind immediately jumps to sci-fi movies and made up laser weapons. As it turns out, evidence has surfaced that the Nazis were planning to build one and use it to take over the world. The basic idea was to launch a huge mirror into space...

    Read More