Search this journal:     Advanced search

Vaccination against GnRH may suppress aggressive behaviour and musth in African elephant (Loxodonta africana) bulls - a pilot study

H. M. De Nys, H. J. Bertschinger, J. A. Turkstra, B. Colenbrander, R. Palme, A. M. Human

Journal of the South African Veterinary Association; Vol 81, No 1 (2010), 8-15. doi: 10.4102/jsava.v81i1.88

Submitted: 03 May 2010
Published:  03 May 2010


Aggressive behaviour and musth are constant problems in captive and sometimes in free-ranging African elephant bulls. Aggressive bulls are difficult and musth bulls almost impossible to manage without severely restricting their movement either by leg-chaining or using tranquillisers. This study investigated the relationship between faecal androgen metabolites (FAM) and faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM) concentrations and aggressive behaviour and tested a GnRH vaccine as a means of down-regulating aggressive behaviour and musth in 1 free-ranging and 5 captive elephant bulls. The bulls were non-aggressive (n = 3), aggressive (n = 2) or in musth (n = 1) at the onset of the study. The bulls were injected with a GnRH vaccine-adjuvant combination 3 or 4 times at 3- to 7-week intervals. Behaviour, FAM and FCM concentrations were measured during every week prior to vaccination until 4 months after the last vaccination. FAM concentrations were positively correlated with aggressive behaviour before the 1st vaccination. Androgen production, as reflected by FAM concentrations, was down-regulated in 3 of the 6 immunised bulls. At least 2 bulls and possibly a 3rd showed behavioural improvement following GnRH vaccination and in all 3 temporal gland secretion ceased. No further aggressive behaviour was observed until the end of the study in any of the bulls. The results of this 1st GnRH immunisation study suggest that it could be a useful method to control aggressive behaviour and musth in African elephant bulls.

Full Text:  |  PDF (716KB)

Author affiliations

H. M. De Nys,
H. J. Bertschinger,
J. A. Turkstra,
B. Colenbrander,
R. Palme,
A. M. Human,



Total abstract views: 1794
Total article views: 2047  


Imke Lueders, Thomas Bernd Hildebrandt, Charles Gray, Stephan Botha, Peter Rich, Cheryl Niemuller
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine  vol: 45  issue: 3  first page: 611  year: 2014  
doi: 10.1638/2013-0233R.1

Comments on this article

Before posting your comment, please read our policy.
Post a Comment (Login required)

ISSN: 1019-9128 (print) | ISSN: 2224-9435 (online)

Connect on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube

Subscribe to our newsletter

All articles published in this journal are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license, unless otherwise stated.

Website design & content: ©2018 AOSIS (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved. No unauthorised duplication allowed.

AOSIS Publishing | Empowering Africa through access to knowledge
Postnet Suite #110, Private Bag X19, Durbanville, South Africa, 7551
Tel: 086 1000 381
Tel: +27 21 975 2602
Fax: 086 5004 974

publishing(AT) replace (AT) with @

Please read the privacy statement.