Studying the relationship between captive elephants and their handlers

April 4, 2020

We have been conducting exciting new research on human-elephant interactions in captive settings. RA



Sagarika Phalke explains.


The Asian elephant shares a long and intertwined relationship with humans. Elephants have been employed in humans use for almost 4000 years. Their shared history and continued interactions in captivity create a very unique and interesting opportunity to study interspecies relationships. 


We are currently working on understanding the types of interactions that occur between captive elephants and their handlers at our field study site in Nepal. This work is being carried out on eight elephants along with their primary and secondary handlers. The elephants and their handlers live in shared spaces and work in coordination with each other. 


We believe the results of our study will yield information on the factors that affect the quality of interactions between captive elephants and their handlers. Thus, allowing us to possibly implement changes that would lead to the better welfare of elephants.  




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© 2015 by Hannah Mumby. 


Thanks to Moritz Muschick for photos