Social structure is important to rewilding


“Understanding of the complexity of social behavior in both wild and captive populations has greatly expanded over recent years,” says Shifra Goldenberg, Ph.D., Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute ecologist and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research fellow. “This information offers valuable insight into the social processes underpinning species’ demography and behavior, and should be applied to enhance the success of their management.”

The study offers wildlife managers a framework in which to analyze and evaluate social relationships within a translocation program, which entails evaluation of an individual animal’s social interactions before, during and after human intervention. This framework echoes the recommendations of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as part of its One Plan Approach to Conservation. In addition to detailing how this concept can be applied, the study also uses information gathered from previous translocation efforts for African and Asian elephants to illustrate the need for this approach.

“Elephants are exceptional candidate species for release efforts; despite the support and broader benefits inherent to elephant release projects, elephants are challenging animals to translocate,” says Megan Owen, Ph.D., director of Population Sustainability at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Elephants are highly social animals that exhibit frequent fission and fusion in their aggregation patterns. They have clear social preferences among their multigenerational associates, which are usually close relatives, but elephants can establish strong bonds with nonrelatives in the absence of family.”
Source: Understanding social structure is important to rewilding