Statural growth in known-age African elephants (Loxodonta africana)



The shoulder heights of 224 females and 170 males, and hindfoot length of 236 female and 217 male known-age African elephants (Loxodonta africana) were measured, and growth curves constructed for each measure of size. A linear relationship between foot length and shoulder height was confirmed in simultaneous measures of 97 males and 110 females. Growth curves demonstrated the typical sexual dimorphism in both foot length and shoulder height, with males growing more rapidly than females from birth onwards. The size dimorphism in foot length and shoulder height becomes marked by the age of 10 years, with males on average being 60–70 cm taller than females at 65 years. This size dimorphism is produced through faster growth which continues for longer than does that of females. The variance in growth rates is slightly greater for females than for males. It is proposed that female growth after puberty is affected by a trade-off between growth and reproduction, while males who deviate markedly from typical patterns of growth may be subject either to mortality or energetic constraints limiting their potential variance.