“Everybody pretty much agrees that the relationship between elephants and people has dramatically changed,” [says psychologist Gay] Bradshaw. . . . “Where for centuries humans and elephants lived in relatively peaceful coexistence, there is now hostility and violence. Now, I use the term ‘violence’ because of the intentionality associated with it, both in the aggression of humans and, at times, the recently observed behavior of elephants.” . . .
Typically, elephant researchers have cited, as a cause of aggression, the high levels of testosterone in newly matured male elephants or the competition for land and resources between elephants and humans. But. . . Bradshaw and several colleagues argue. . . that today’s elephant populations are suffering from a form of chronic stress, a kind of species-wide trauma. Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture. . . .
Elephants, when left to their own devices, are profoundly social creatures. . . . Young elephants are raised within an extended, multitiered network of doting female caregivers that includes the birth mother, grandmothers, aunts and friends. These relations are maintained over a life span as long as 70 years. Studies of established herds have shown that young elephants stay within 15 feet of their mothers for nearly all of their first eight years of life, after which young females are socialized into the matriarchal network, while young males go off for a time into an all-male social group before coming back into the fold as mature adults. . . .
This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues [demonstrate], ha[s] effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and translocations of herds to different habitats. . . . As a result of such social upheaval, calves are now being born to and raised by ever younger and inexperienced mothers. Young orphaned elephants, meanwhile, that have witnessed the death of a parent at the hands of poachers are coming of age in the absence of the support system that defines traditional elephant life. “The loss of elephant elders,” [says] Bradshaw . . . "and the traumatic experience of witnessing the massacres of their family, impairs normal brain and behavior development in young elephants.”
What Bradshaw and her colleagues describe would seem to be an extreme form of anthropocentric conjecture if the evidence that they’ve compiled from various elephant researchers. . . weren’t so compelling. The elephants of decimated herds, especially orphans who’ve watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related disorders in humans: abnormal startle response, unpredictable asocial behavior, inattentive mothering and hyperaggression. . . .
[According to Bradshaw], “Elephants are suffering and behaving in the same ways that we recognize in ourselves as a result of violence. . . . Except perhaps for a few specific features, brain organization and early development of elephants and humans are extremely similar.”
Question: The passage makes all of the following claims EXCEPT:
- elephant mothers are evolving newer ways of rearing their calves to adapt to emerging threats.
- the elephant response to deeply disturbing experiences is similar to that of humans.
- human actions such as poaching and culling have created stressful conditions for elephant communities.
- elephants establish extended and enduring familial relationships as do humans.
The second choice can be seen in the last sentence of the second last paragraph: “the elephants of decimated herds, especially orphans who’ve watched the death of their parents and elders from poaching and culling, exhibit behavior typically associated with…. humans…”
Again, the evidence for choice 2 can been found in the second last paragraph; anthropocentric means concerning humans or brought by/caused by humans. Thus both options 2 and 3 can be safely eliminated.
The clue to the choice 4 can be found in the third paragraph, which says that elephants are profoundly social creatures. For option1 we have no evidence.
Question: Which of the following statements best expresses the overall argument of this passage?
- Recent elephant behaviour could be understood as a form of species-wide trauma-related response.
- Elephants, like the humans they are in conflict with, are profoundly social creatures.
- The relationship between elephants and humans has changed from one of coexistence to one of hostility.
- The brain organisation and early development of elephants and humans are extremely similar.
This question is just another way of asking the central idea of the question. Here we have been asked to express the overall argument of the passage.
Though option 4 is visible in the paragraph, it is not the central idea. The central idea seems to be focusing on the change in the elephants’ attitude towards humans. Option 1 captures the key argument of the passage.
Like option 4, option 2, though true as per the passage, is not the key focus of the passage.
Option 3 might look like a good choice, but there is a flaw in the option. The passage is not focusing on the relationship between elephants and humans, though the passage starts on that note. The author is more focused on bringing to our attention the aggressive behavior of elephants and tries to find out the causes of that aggression.
Option 1 is the best choice because bulk of the passage is dedicated to how and why the elephants behave aggressively (species-wide-trauma-related response)
Question: Which of the following measures is Bradshaw most likely to support to address the problem of elephant aggression?
- Funding of more studies to better understand the impact of testosterone on male elephant aggression.
- The development of treatment programmes for elephants drawing on insights gained from treating post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.
- Studying the impact of isolating elephant calves on their early brain development, behaviour and aggression.
- Increased funding for research into the similarity of humans and other animals drawing on insights gained from human-elephant similarities.
To answer this question, we must first carefully read the question. The question wants us to address the problem of aggression in elephants, suggesting that we must pick the option that brings a solution to the problem of elephant aggression.
Option 1 goes out because the testosterone issue is not at all a concern or the bone of contention. Moreover, by understanding it, how would we be able to address the problem concerning elephant aggression.
Option 2 could indeed help us address the problem of elephant aggression because the trauma experienced by elephants is very similar to stress disorder in humans, and because elephants are social creatures just as humans are, insights gained from treating post-traumatic stress disorder in humans might help us address the problem of elephant aggression. Option 2 is the right choice
Both option 3 and 4 are not likely to contribute in any ways to addressing the problem of elephant aggression. If yes, then there must a strong evidence for that in the passage, but we have no such evidence.
Question: In paragraph 4, the phrase, “The fabric of elephant society . . . has(s) effectively been frayed by . . .” is:
- an accurate description of the condition of elephant herds today.
- a metaphor for the effect of human activity on elephant communities.
- an exaggeration aimed at bolstering Bradshaw’s claims.
- an ode to the fragility of elephant society today.
The fabric has been frayed is a figurative expression in which the elephant society has been compared to a fabric that humans have frayed. Choice 2, by stating that it is a metaphor, properly captures the essence of the statement.
Option 1 is incorrect because the statement is not a description but an assertion of a condition that exists today.
Both option 3 and 4 are not in tune with the author’s purpose. The author is not exaggerating the disintegration of elephant society. He is, in fact, being quite sympathetic.
Option 4 suggests that the society has become frail on its own, without any external cause. But human activity is the cause and that has frayed the fabric. Thus, option 4 too is not correctly expressing the idea given in the question.
Question: In the first paragraph, Bradshaw uses the term “violence” to describe the recent change in the human-elephant relationship because, according to him:
- there is a purposefulness in human and elephant aggression towards each other.
- elephant herds and their habitat have been systematically destroyed by humans.
- human-elephant interactions have changed their character over time.
- both humans and elephants have killed members of each other’s species.
The hint to the right answer is there in the first para. The author says that there is intentionality associated with the word ‘violence’, suggesting that there is a reason behind human and elephant aggression towards each other. Option 1 is thus the right choice.
Option 2 says ‘systematically destroyed’. There is no evidence of ‘systematic destruction’ of elephant herds by humans. It is an extreme choice.
Option 3 is true as per the passage, but that is not the reason behind the author’s using the term ‘violence’ to describe the recent change in the human-elephant relationship.
Option 4 is incorrect but the author is focusing on elephants’ aggression towards humans, something that should not be necessarily interpreted as ‘killing’