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SUMMARY

In order to gain information on the growth and nutrition of two populations of elephants in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, their urinary excretions of hydroxyproline peptides (HP) were compared.

Animals from the “south bank” population had a consistently higher level of excretion than corresponding animals from the “north bank” population. This indicated a faster rate of growth and a superior nutritional status in “south bank” animals at the time of sampling.

The HP output from both populations was found to run parallel to the seasonal variation in rainfall and vegetation growth. Sampling from each population was carried out at a different time of the year and evidence is presented to show that the differences in the rate of growth are a direct result of this. It is concluded that any primary differences between the populations are small enough to be obliterated by seasonal changes.

The effect of the seasons on the growth of the elephant is therefore examined in more detail, and a direct influence on collagen metabolism is discussed.