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Correlation of sperm quality and endocrine parameters in freeranging Asian elephant bulls (Elephas maximus) in Vietnam

Abstract
This study reports the correlation of faecal androgen and cortisol metabolites to spermatological parameters in male Asian elephants. Field work was performed in 10 semi-wild living Asian bull elephants in the province of Dac Lac, South Vietnam. These semi-wild ranging elephants spend
their predominate time in the relative freedom of the Yok Don National Park. Faecal samples were collected over periods of 8 months and faecal steroids were analysed for androgen and cortisol metabolites. During 1 month, 3 of
the 10 bulls were trained and used for semen collection. These bulls included one extraordinary calm and less aggressive bull (#1;); one rather aggressive and dangerous bull (#2), and one bull (#3), which turned out to
be chronically ill. After 2 weeks of training, ejaculates from each of the three bulls were collected up to 7 times in 2-3 day intervals by manual rectal stimulation. Ejaculate volumes were significantly correlated to average androgen concentration. Higher androgen values were correlated to higher ejaculate volumes, but lower sperm motility and higher pathomorphology. Average cortisol metabolite levels levels did not increase during training or semen collection, but cortisol levels could be tentatively related to the character of the bulls. The extraordinary calm bull had the lowest, the aggressive bull the highest values. Seven of the 10 bulls showed periods of musth (a periodically repeated status of elevated androgen levels and aggression) which lasted about 1-2 months. Faecal
androgen values during musth increased significantly. In conclusion, methods for semen collection were successfully used in semi-wild ranging Asian elephants and ejaculate volumes were related to faecal androgen levels.
Project leader
Schwarzenberger Franz
Duration
01.01.98-31.12.02
Type of Research
Basic research
Vetmed Research Units
Institute for Medical Biochemistry
Projekt partner
Contact: Prof.Dr. F. Schwarzenberger
Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Veterinärmedizinische Endokrinologie, Veterinärplatz 1, A Wien, Austria
Tay Nguyen University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Foresty and Agriculture
Funded by
Richter Pharma AG, Wels, Austria
Schönbrunner Tiergarten-Gesellschaft m.b.H., Wien, Austria
5 Publications

Schwarzenberger, F; Strauss, G; Hoppen, HO; Schaftenaar, W; Dielemann, SJ; Zenker, W; Pagan, O (1997): Evaluation of progesterone and 20-oxo-progestagens in the plasma of Asian (Elephas maximus) and African (Loxodonta africana) Elephants. Zoo Biology (16) 403-413.

Pucher, H.E; Stremme, C; Tu, N.C; Ly, C.T. Holzmann, A. Schwarzenberger, F (2001): Andrological investigations in semi-wild ranging male asian elephants (Elaphas maximus) in Vietnam. 5th Annual Conf. of the European Society for Domestic Animals Reproduction (ESDAR) in collaboration with the European Vet. Soc. for Small Animal Reproduction, Vienna, Austria, Sept., 13th to 15th. 5th Annual Conf. of the European Society for Domestic Animals Reproduction (ESDAR) in collaboration with the European Vet. Soc. for Small Animal Reproduction, Vienna, Sept., 13th to 15th.

Pucher, HE; Stremme, C; Tu, NC; Ly, CT; Holzmann, A; Schwarzenberger, F (2001): Endocrine and spermatological evaluations of semi-wild ranging male asian elephants (elephas maximus) in Vietnam - preliminary results. International Elephant and Rhino Research Symposium, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Wien, Österreich, Austria, June 7 - 11, 2001. International Elephant and Rhino Research Symposium, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, Wien, Österreich, June 7 - 11, 2001.

Pucher, H.E; Stremme, C; Schwarzenberger, F (2001): Penile paralysis in a semi wild ranging asian elephant bull (elephas maximus) in vietnam - case report. 177-181.-Verhandlungsbericht des 40. Internationalen Symposiums über die Erkrankungen der Zoo- und Wildtiere; MAY 23-26, 2001; Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Schwarzenberger, F; Pucher, HE; Stremme, C; Holzmann, A; Tu, NC; Ly, CT (2001): Endocrinological studies in semi-wild ranging male asian elephants (elephas maximus) in vietnam: correlation to musth and spermatological parameters. 135-139.-Verhandlungsbericht des 40. Internationalen Symposiums über die Erkrankungen der Zoo- und Wildtiere; MAY 23-26, 2001; Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

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