Basic anatomy and physiology, artificial insemination, parturition, and social aspects of reproduction
The study and research of reproduction in elephants is increasingly critical in consideration of the quickly dwindling population numbers and estimates. The current Asian elephant population is estimated to lie between 50,000-70,000 across the world, with 15,000 of these individuals in captivity. African elephant population numbers are low as well after serious culling through hunting and poaching. These numbers make the low reproduction rates a great concern as elephants do not currently sufficiently reproduce at an adequate rate to sustain population size.12
Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology of the Female Elephant
The vagina has multiple longitudinal folds and in size measures 30x15x10 cm approximately. In elephants, the penis does not physically penetrate the vagina during deposition of semen. During pregnancy, a thick vaginal mucus is present that works as a critical mechanical and infectious barrier. Nulliparous females contain a hymen that does not actually rupture by mating. The vaginal os has by two blind pouches by it that are considered to be possible remnants of Wollfian ducts. The clitoris is large and aids in guiding the penis during copulation. The ovaries are small in comparison to the overall size of the elephant, measuring approximately 7x5x2.5 cm in adults. Leading from these, the oviducts, at about 10 cm long, are positioned near the tip of the uterine horn at the ends of the oviducts. The ovaries contain multiple follicles displaying different stages of development, even in pregnant cows, with the dominant follicle usually being between 10 to 20 mm in size.13 T...
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11. Rasmussen, L.E.L., and B.A. Schulte. "Chemical Signals in the Reproduction of Asian (Elephas Maximus) and African (Loxodonta Africana) Elephants." Animal Reproduction Science 53.1-4 (1998): 19-34. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
12. Saragusty, Joseph, Thomas Hildebradnt, Britta Behr, Andreas Knieriem, Jurgen Kruse, and Robert Hermes. "Successful Cryopreservation of Asian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) Spermatozoa." Animal Reproduction Science 115.1-4 (2009): 255-266. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
13. Sukumar, R. The Living Elephants : Evolutionary Ecology, Behavior, And Conservation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 24 Nov. 2013.
14. Schmitt, Dennis. "Reproductive System." Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants. Ed. Murray E Fowler and Susan K Mikota. Blackwell Publishing, 2006. 347-354. Wiley Online Library. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
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