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Contraceptive Vaccine for Elephants Is Successfully Tested in the Wild

September 14, 2000

The first contraceptive vaccine for African elephants has been successfully tested in the wild, researchers report in today's Nature. Though African elephants are endangered, over-breeding is a problem in parks and refuges, where herds have overgrazed vegetation, leaving many animals thin and sickly.

The researchers delivered the vaccine with dart guns in field tests at Kruger National Park in South Africa, giving female elephants an initial shot, followed by boosters at six weeks and six months. When the animals were captured a year after the initial vaccination, only 44% were pregnant, while 89% of elephants given a placebo were carrying young.

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Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II.

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