A visual system for scoring body condition of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus)

Shanmugasundaram Wijeyamohan, MSU Graduate Student
Kibby Treiber
Dennis Schmitt, Missouri State University
Charles Santiapillai, Missouri State University

Abstract

A body condition score (BCS) may provide information on the health or production potential of an animal; it may also reflect the suitability of the environment to maintain an animal population. Thus assessing the BCS of Asian elephants is important for their management. There is a need for a robust BCS applicable to both wild and captive elephants of all age categories based on the minimum and maximum possible subcutaneous body fat and muscle deposits. The visually based system for scoring the body condition of elephants presented here satisfies these criteria and is quick, inexpensive, non-invasive and user-friendly in the field. The BCS scale correlates (P"‰<"‰0.05) with morphometric indices such as weight, girth, and skin fold measures.