Did you know that an elephant’s stress levels can be accurately monitored by analysing the concentration of certain stress-related hormones (cortisol and its corticosteroid metabolites) that are excreted in its dung? We conduct research at Jabulani on an ongoing basis to determine the physiological and behavioural impact to monitor the stress levels of the elephants due to being in contact with humans and being semi-habituated. We do this by comparing the concentration of these stress hormones in the dung of the Jabulani herd to the levels in the dung of free-ranging, wild elephants assumed not to be exposed to stress factors other than those that they normally experienced during the course of their day-to-day existence. Initial findings indicate that the members of the Jabulani elephant herd had similar levels (both within the normal range of non-stressed animals) of these stress hormones indicating that they were not stressed by their interaction with people.
You, as our guests at Jabulani, can participate in this ongoing research. Join your ranger on a safari vehicle or on foot to search for elephant dung to collect for research purposes. In this, you’ll be participating in collecting data to provide answers to the many questions and challenges that we face in our endeavour to manage semi-habituated elephants in a stress-free way and to ease those that may have concerns about their well-being. As the welfare of the rescued herd of elephants is our main concern, we conduct this research with HERD Trust to enable us to address and manage these issues based on scientific evidence.