Efficacy and welfare of aversive geofencing devices for managing the movements of Asian elephants

PhD by Publication


Cabral de Mel, Surendranie. 2023. Efficacy and welfare of aversive geofencing devices for managing the movements of Asian elephants. PhD by Publication Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/z3v6x
Title

Efficacy and welfare of aversive geofencing devices for managing the movements of Asian elephants

TypePhD by Publication
AuthorsCabral de Mel, Surendranie
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Tek Maraseni
2. SecondA/Pr Benjamin Allen
3. ThirdDevaka Keerthi Weerakoon
Ashoka Dangolla
Saman Seneweera
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages182
Year2023
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/z3v6x
Abstract

Aversive geofencing devices (AGDs) or satellite-linked electric shock collars are commercially used on livestock species to restrict them to within a virtual boundary. AGDs can condition animals to associate an audio warning with an impending electric shock which is delivered as they reach a virtual boundary and avoid receiving the shock by modifying their movement. This method has potential to minimise conflicts between humans and Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) by conditioning elephants to avoid human habitats. Humanelephant conflict (HEC) poses a great threat to Asian elephant conservation, but most current HEC mitigation approaches have many drawbacks and AGDs have not been previously trialled on this species. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to explore the potential of AGDs as an HEC mitigation tool by undertaking four empirical studies: assessment of (1) public perceptions of the causes of and solutions to HEC, (2) the ability of AGDs to manage captive elephant movement, (3) the welfare impact of using AGDs on captive elephants, and (4) attitudes towards using AGDs on wild elephants. The analysis of responses from 611 survey respondents revealed that all stakeholder groups (experts, farmers and others who have and have not experienced HEC) agreed on most causes of HEC and the importance of elephant conservation. But farmers who are exposed to HEC disagreed with the experts that people should try to co-exist with elephants. All stakeholder groups agreed on only a few current HEC mitigation tools as being acceptable and effective, emphasizing the need to explore additional methods such as AGDs to effectively mitigate HEC. Pilot experiments with captive Asian elephants using modified dog-training collars showed that elephants modify their movements and display desired behavioural responses to mild electric shocks delivered on the neck. The assessment of behavioural and physiological stress responses of the elephants during the above experiments revealed that AGDs do not cause unnecessary stress to elephants and can be safely used to manage them. The survey on attitudes towards such use of AGDs as a potential HEC mitigation tool revealed that respondents had positive attitudes towards the effectiveness of AGDs to manage elephant movement. Furthermore, if scientific evidence can be provided on the efficacy of AGDs in managing captive elephants, then use of AGDs on wild elephants would be perceived as more acceptable by stakeholders. Based on the outcomes of this study, the continued exploration of AGDs as an HEC mitigation tool should be encouraged. If AGDs can be developed to effectively manage wild elephant movements, it will help save lives of both humans and elephants in the future.

KeywordsAnimal behaviour; animal welfare; Elephas maximus; human-wildlife conflict; virtual fencing; wildlife management
Related Output
Has partCurrent and Future Approaches to Mitigate Conflict between Humans and Asian Elephants: The Potential Use of Aversive Geofencing Devices
Has partVirtual fencing of captive Asian elephants fitted with an aversive geofencing device to manage their movement
Has partWelfare impacts associated with using aversive geofencing devices on captive Asian elephants
Has partAttitudes towards the Potential Use of Aversive Geofencing Devices to Manage Wild Elephant Movement
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300306. Animal welfare
310901. Animal behaviour
410407. Wildlife and habitat management
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author/creator.

Byline AffiliationsAcademic Registrar's Office
Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems (Research)
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Related outputs

Welfare impacts associated with using aversive geofencing devices on captive Asian elephants
Cabral de Mel, Surendranie J., Seneweera, Saman, de Mel, Ruvinda K., Dangolla, Ashoka, Weerakoon, Devaka K., Maraseni, Tek and Allen, Benjamin L.. 2023. "Welfare impacts associated with using aversive geofencing devices on captive Asian elephants." Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 265. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2023.105991
Attitudes towards the Potential Use of Aversive Geofencing Devices to Manage Wild Elephant Movement
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