Finally, we defined several demographic and socioeconomic scenarios to investigate new ecological-economic equilibria that can serve as a basis to design sustainable management strategy for the species.Breeding practices radically changed since Laos transitioned to an open market economy in 1989.
To develop a demographic model incorporating economic constraints, we considered the processes impacting the dynamics of captive elephants with a focus on the determinants of fecundity.
Therefore, we developed a model including three components: (i) a demographic component structured by sex and age, including the exports of living captive elephants, to estimate the captive population abundance at a given time; (ii) a wild elephant component to account for the wild male breeding potential; (iii) and an economic component to model the elephant owner’s decision-making process.
For example, it has been shown how life histories could impact reproductive success, survival or senescence.
Besides survival, large variations in average fecundity rates have been observed in different populations across the region and over time, with a fecundity rate of 0.023 (2.3% of breeding females) in Laos.
Two other reasons were given equally (11): stud fees being too expensive, and their elephant being too tired for breeding.
Owners of males indicated having difficulties finding a captive female for mating because “females are not available” ( 8), “their male is too tired for mating” (8), and “females owners do not want to pay stud fees” (6).The interactions between wild and captive populations of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) persist in most countries of the species distribution, notably through the reproduction between captive females and wild males.However, these complex interactions have been poorly studied, despite their relevance for conservation of this endangered species.Traditionally, captive elephants were used for occasional village work while spending most of their time in small herds, grazing freely in the village surroundings.Mating of captive females with either captive or wild males was uncontrolled.No systematic assessment explains why the captive birth rates are highly variable and lower than birth rates observed in wild populations.