The African elephant, Loxodonta africana:a field method for the estimation of age



The need for a field method of determining and describing the relative age of African elephants collected in their natural habitat arose during a recent research project, and has led to an attempt to formulate a laminary age standard for use in the field, based upon direct observations and measurements on the lower right molars. For this purpose aseries of 31 African elephants of both sexes, covering almostthe complete potential age range of an elephant's life, and of known body condition, locality and size, has been used as the basis for constructing a reference chart of molar laminary age. Eye lens weights were also obtained for 26 of these specimens, but, although indicativeof a direct correlation with laminary age, they were obtained in insufficient numbers to provide an adequate sequence. Each of the specimens used was first observed alive, then shot and examined post mortem during the course of a research project*on cardiovascular disease, in which the determination of relative age formed an integral part.