Reading Comprehension – Everybody pretty much agrees

Reading Comprehension – Everybody pretty much agrees

Reading Comprehension

“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.”

Q.1 Which of the following measures is Bradshaw most likely to support to address the problem of elephant aggression?

  1. The development of treatment programmes for elephants drawing on insights gained from treating post-traumatic stress disorder in humans.
  2. Increased funding for research into the similarity of humans and other animals drawing on insights gained from human-elephant similarities.
  3. Funding of more studies to better understand the impact of testosterone on male elephant aggression.
  4. Studying the impact of isolating elephant calves on their early brain development, behaviour and aggression.

Comprehension:

Q.2 In paragraph 4, the phrase, “The fabric of elephant society . . . has[s] effectively been frayed by . . .” is:

  1. a metaphor for the effect of human activity on elephant communities.
  2. an exaggeration aimed at bolstering Bradshaw’s claims.
  3. an accurate description of the condition of elephant herds today.
  4. an ode to the fragility of elephant society today.

Q.3 Which of the following statements best expresses the overall argument of this passage?

  1. The brain organisation and early development of elephants and humans are extremely similar.
  2. The relationship between elephants and humans has changed from one of coexistence to one of hostility.
  3. Recent elephant behaviour could be understood as a form of species-wide trauma-related response.
  4. Elephants, like the humans they are in conflict with, are profoundly social creatures.

Q.4 In the first paragraph, Bradshaw uses the term “violence” to describe the recent change in the human-elephant relationship because, according to him:

  1. there is a purposefulness in human and elephant aggression towards each other.
  2. both humans and elephants have killed members of each other’s species.
  3. human-elephant interactions have changed their character over time.
  4. elephant herds and their habitat have been systematically destroyed by humans.

Q.5 The passage makes all of the following claims EXCEPT:

  1. human actions such as poaching and culling have created stressful conditions for elephant communities.
  2. the elephant response to deeply disturbing experiences is similar to that of humans.
  3. elephant mothers are evolving newer ways of rearing their calves to adapt to emerging threats.
  4. elephants establish extended and enduring familial relationships as do humans.

Answers:

Q1: Option (1)

Q2: Option (1)

Q3: Option (3)

Q4: Option (1)

Q5: Option (3)

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