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The statistics and analysis of foraging plants species eaten by Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)in China

JIANG Zhicheng 1,2, LI Zhengling 1,2, BAO Mingwei 3, CHEN Mingyong 1,2#br#   

  1. (1 School of Life Science, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China)
    (2 Asian Elephant Research Center of Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China)
    (3 Xishuangbanna Asian Elephant Breeding and Rescue Center, Jinghong 666106,  China)
  • Online:2019-09-30 Published:2019-11-27


姜志诚1,2 李正玲1,2 保明伟3 陈明勇1,2   

  1. (1 云南大学 生命科学学院,昆明 650091)
    (2 云南大学 亚洲象研究中心,昆明 650091)
    (3 云南西双版纳亚洲象种源繁育与救助中心,景洪 666106)
  • 通讯作者: 陈明勇 E-mail:
  • 基金资助:


To understand plants consumed by Asian elephants in China, we collated data from wild and captive Asian elephants (from the Xishuangbanna Center for Rescue and breeding of Asian Elephant). Methods: Wild elephants were surveyed using transects, for tracking, observing and searching traces of foraging and plant residues, captive elephants while self-feeding in the wild. Results: The result of our field surveys shows that the plants foraged by the Chinese Asian elephants included 111 species (77 genera of 42 families from 29 orders), among which 57 species were recorded for the first time as forage plant of the Asian elephant. Based on our field surveys and previous research, a new checklist of forage plants with 240 species (162 genera, 62 families, 32 orders) was proposed for the Asian elephants in China. The G-F index (0.84) reveals that the Chinese Asian envelopes have a diverse diet, including pteridophytes, gymnosperm, and angiosperms. Our analyses show the plants foraged by the captive Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna include 84 species. However, the captive Asian elephants in Xishuangbanna feed mainly on Gramineae (Saccharum spp., Zea mays, Digitaria spp., Pennisetum purpureum, and Thysanolaena
latifolia); while the captive Asian elephants elsewhere in China (Beijing Zoo, Guangzhou Zoo and Kunming Zoo) are primarily fed with Sorghum species (S. bicolor, or S. sudanense). Thus wild elephant populations should have a more diverse diet. Discussion: Thus the restoration of wild Asian Elephant habitat protection should avoid crops and cash crops, and prioritise delicious, fast-growing, and high biomass indigenous plants, such as Musa acuminata, Thysanolaena latifolia, Caryota obtuse, Broussonetia papyrifera, Bischofia polycarpa, Macaranga denticulata, Digitaria spp., bamboo, and so on. To provide adequate food for wild Asian elephants, a variety of plants need to be grown according to different seasons of planting. For captive Asian elephants a diverse range of plants to feed on in addition to better conditions would greatly improve their quality of life.

Key words: Asian elephant, Forage plant, China


2016年1月至2017年12月,分别采用样线法和跟踪调查法对中国境内分布的野生亚洲象和云南西双版纳亚洲象种源繁育与救助中心的10头圈养亚洲象放养时取食植物进行调查,经分类鉴定,共收集到亚洲象取食植物111种,分属29目、42科、77属,其中新增亚洲象取食植物57种,分属于21目、32科、44属。与文献中记载的中国亚洲象植物性食物进行了汇总,统计得到新的中国亚洲象植物性食物名录,共计32目、62科、162属、240种。多样性分析结果显示,G-F多样性指数为0.84,表明中国野生及圈养亚洲象取食的植物具有较高的多样性,这些植物涉及蕨类植物门、裸子植物门和被子植物门。其中,圈养亚洲象采食植物种类共84种,西双版纳境内圈养亚洲象以禾本科(Gramineae)的甘蔗(Saccharum spp.)、玉米(Zea mays)、马唐(Digitaria spp.)、象草(Pennisetum purpureum)、粽叶芦(Thysanolaena latifolia)等为主要食物,而国内其它地方(北京动物园、广州动物园和昆明动物园)圈养的亚洲象主要饲喂高粱属(Sorghum)的高粱(S. bicolor)或苏丹草(S. sudanense)等。因此,在将来开展野生亚洲象栖息地保护、恢复及食物源基地项目规划与建设时应规避农作物和经济作物,优选亚洲象喜食、速生、生物量大的土著物种,如野芭蕉、棕叶芦、董棕、构树、重阳木、中平树、马唐属及竹类等植物,按照不同季节进行套种,为亚洲象提供更多可口食物。对于圈养亚洲象,需要设计足够面积的食物源基地供放养,补充食物种类,增加运动量,增强体质,提高其生活质量。

关键词: 亚洲象, 取食植物, 中国