Elephants prefer living in areas away from humans
London, February 7 : Wild elephants prefer to live in safer, protected areas and become stressed when they come closer to humans, according to a new study.
Scientists have found African elephants living outside Serengeti National Park are more stressed than those within the protected area.
More elephants also choose to live inside the park, suggesting they "know" which areas are safer to live in, and actively avoid humans.
Serengeti National Park helps protect animals from threats such as illegal hunting and habitat disturbance.
The study, published in the African Journal of Ecology, aimed to determine African elephants' (Loxodonta africana) welfare inside Serengeti National Park and in the partially-protected adjoining areas of Grumeti Game Reserve and Ikoma Open Area, where human disturbance is greater.
By testing elephant dung, the research team found animals outside the national park had significantly higher levels of the stress hormone, gluccorticoid.
Also, more elephants lived inside the park, while no single males were seen outside, suggesting the elephants preferred residing in potentially safer areas.
"The reason is most probably that elephants try to avoid human-elephant interactions," said research team member Dr Eivin Roskaft from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
"Elephants probably remember where they are, and that bad experiences stress them," Dr Roskaft told BBC Nature.