Elephants

Loxodonta Africana

elephant fatcs

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Common Name: African Elephant

Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana

Type: Mammal

Group Name: Herd

Diet: Herbivore

Life Span in the Wild: up to 70 Years

Weight: 2.5 to 7 Tons

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Elephants have the Largest Teeth on Earth larger than Whales. The loss of teeth contribute to or is the leading cause of death of mature Elephants. As the final molar breaks it becomes ever difficult to chew food and this may cause starvation and malnutrition.

The average African Elephant's Tusk can reach 1.5 to 2.4 meters and may weigh in at 23 to 45 kg. The Trunk is in actual fact a limb and has an estimated 100 000 muscles and tendons. 

Incredibly Elephants like Humans are left or right handed as they will favor using one side from the other (Tusk).

The African Elephant is listed as a Threatened Specie

Fun Facts ( African Elephants):

  • Only Mammal that can not Jump
  • Average weight of Elephant Heart is 12 to 20 kg
  • Elephant has an incredibly slow heart rate
  • Elephant skin is 2.5 cm thick
  • Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all animals 22 months
  • Elephants can swim

 

Fun Facts ( African Elephants):

  • Elephants also use their feet to listen sub-sonic rumblings
  • Elephants are incredibly caring & sensitive animals
  • Elephants Ears are used to regulate the body's temperature
  • The word "Elephant" comes from the Greek word "elephas" meaning ivory
  • New born baby can weigh 117 kg
  • Females can have babies up to the age of 50 years old

The African Elephant

Elephant Facts (Fun)

  1. Yes Elephants drink water through their trunks almost like straws, however they use the trunk to suck water almost half way and then pour the water into their mouths.
  2. Elephants drink a lot of water between 140 and 235 liters per day.
  3. Elephants can not Jump, however did you know that other animals such as Hippos, Sloths and Rhino's can also not Jump.
  4. Elephants may spend up to 18 hours a day merely eating. Elephants eat between 150 and 170 kilograms of food per day.
  5. It is true or fact that Elephants can hear through their Feet. Over and above the fact that they have good hearing Elephants can also detect vibrations on the ground through their sensory cells in their feet. This vibration travels to the Elephants middle ear. Furthermore Elephants can also determine from which direction the vibrations are coming from.
size comparison of elephant and human
size comparison of african elephant and human

the Largest & Heaviest Terrestrial Mammal

The African Elephant is undoubtedly one of Africa’s most iconic species known for intense emotional awareness, uncanny intelligence and very strong family ties and thus we as humans can find many similarities with these gentle giants.

Modern elephants evolved in Africa for African conditions, The Savannah elephant or African Elephant that we see today evolved from a much smaller ancestor, that lived in wet marsh conditions 35 million years ago, to the massive robust species adapted to life in the dry, open Savannah and harsh African conditions. They have expertly adapted to feed off the bulk coarse vegetation and one of the biggest evolutionary changes had been their teeth.

They have a single molar set off teeth in very short jaws with modified upper incisor teeth (tusks) that continually grow throughout their lives. In the course of an elephants lifetime six cheek teeth succeed one another, travelling slowly along the jaw at an angle that wears them down front to back. The elephant will lose a tooth once its grinding surface has worn off subsequently dying once all the teeth have been “used” up. An elephants tusk is used as weapons to fend of predators and also used in feeding to clean soil off vegetation. Elephants like humans are either left or right handed and because of this either the right or left tusks will be worn depending on their dexterity.

african elephants tusk

 

Elephants are easily identified in the wild by their enormous size, a bull weighing on average of 6 tons and a cow around 4 tons. Elephants have very large ears weighing approximately 20 kg each and measuring 2 m x 1.2 m. These large rounded ears are not only used for hearing but also act as a cooling mechanism for elephants. The back of the ears are laced with a complexes blood vessels and help with cooling the elephants down as the ears are fanned in the wind. The skin on the ears are the thinnest and noticeably the softest as other areas of an elephants skin is thick (3-4 cm) and ranges from pale grey in color to dense black.

Both sexes have temporal glands which sits behind the eye and that secretes a liquid called temporin. When a male goes through a period called musth the temporin gets secreted and drips from the gland as well as from the penis down the legs.

Their feet are columnar and elephants walk on their toes. Their heel is supported by a cartridge pad that acts as a noise absorb-er. The pads leave individually recognizable track – the forefeet circular and the hind more elongated.

Tracks, frequent boluses, occasional urine puddles and extensive breakage and harvesting of foliage are all telltale signs of where elephant have been.

Elephant in thick bush Imfolozi

Elephants were distributed among-st most of Africa except the very dry areas in the Sahara. This being said they do have the ability to forage for food as far as 80 km away from water.

The elephants prefer a habitat with adequate food (elephants can eat up to 300 kg of food and expel up to 150 kg of dung a day), water and shade. This includes Savannah, woodlands, forest areas, grasslands and semi desert.

elephants can swim

Elephants are herbivores and 90% of their diet includes plant like material. They consume roughly 5% of their body weight and their food takes roughly 12 hours to pass through.

Elephants have a very social structure and practice a matriarchal society, the center of the family being a mother and a daughter. Female elephants cannot conceive until 8 years of age but once they become mothers they soon become the matriarchs or unit leaders.

elephant chasing lion

jons blog

 

 

article by: Jonathan Webster

 

Different Species of Elephant

Elephant Species

Their are 2 species of Elephant's, the African Elephant and the Asian Elephant (elephas maximus). The African Elephant, Loxodononta africana, has 2 subspecies: the Savannah elephant, loxodonta africana africana, and the less common bush elephant, loxodonta africana cyclotis.

The Savannah elephant is the larger and darker than the bush elephant. Has more hair and occurs on the African plains and tree scattered Savannah's, while the bush elephant occurs in the forest of west Africa and Congo.

The African and Asian Elephants and mammoths belong to the order Proboscidea.

How Do African Elephants differ from Asian Elephants?

The African Elephant is taller, has a larger head and ears concealing its neck and shoulders. A larger body and the trunk ends in 2 "fingers". The Asian Elephant has a arched back, high forehead, smoother skin and the trunk only has "finger" at the tip.

african and asian elephant comparison

How Thick is a Elephants Skin?

The wrinkled skin feels like that of a old trees bark. It is the thickest on the legs (3 -4 cm) legs, back, forehead and trunk. Elephants do not have sweat glands, and do however loose moisture through their skin. Elephants are sensitive to heat.

How Do Elephants Cool Down ?

The skin in and around the Ears are very thin, therefore the Elephants pumps blood into those areas thus cooling them down. It has also been revealed that Elephants can also increase blood flow into skin patches in other parts of the body. Flapping of their ears also contributes to cooling down.

How Do Elephants use their Trunks and Why?

First of all it is important to understand that a Elephant uses it's Trunk as a Hand. Their are numerous uses for the trunk including Eating, Drinking & off course Drinking. The trunk can Pick Up Objects, Smell Objects and is also a good indicator as to the Mood of the Elephant. The Trunk is after all the Elephant's upper Lip and Nose, having 2 nostrils that run dun the Trunk.

  • With an incredible 40 000 muscles grouped round the nose tubes. Incredibly the Elephants Trunk has no bones.
  • The Trunk of a Elephant is astonishingly strong and can lift up to 350kg.
  • Snorkel anyone Yes Elephants can use them as Snorkels while crossing Rivers.
  • The African Elephant has 2 Fingers in their Trunks versus the Asian Elephant with 1 Finger.
  • The Fingers of the Elephant's Trunk can actually Hold and Pinch. This is done by squeezing the opposite sides of the Trunk.
  • If Humans where to be compared to that of a Elephant's Trunks it would be our Tongues.
How Elephants use their trunks to eat and drink facts

Elephant's Trunk Facts:

  • The Trunk is almost like a Straw and may hold up to 12 liters of Water
  • Weighs in at an astounding 140 Kilograms
  • The Trunk can grow to a total length of 7 Feet
  • It may be as thick as 2.5 to 3 cm thick (skin)

Elephant Names

English Elephant
French Éléphant Africain
Afrikaans Olifant
Spanish Elefante Africano
Zulu - Ndlovu

Elephant Taxonomy

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Proboscidea Elephantidae

Elephant Distribution

Savanna elephants live in Eastern and Southern parts of Africa, with their greatest populations occurring in Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Elephants can be seen foraging for as far as 80km and are greatly dependent on water sources so will often inhabit areas where water can be found such as rivers and dams.

Elephant distribution has been severely minimized due to the illicit trade in ivory, the material of their tusks. Elephants suffer heavily from poaching and are therefore listed as a vulnerable species.

african elephant distribution in africa map

Elephant Behaviour

  • The entire dynamics of Elephants and their social circles is based on a mother and her offspring. Elephants can only start conceiving from the age of 8 when they reach sexual maturity. Once they have their first offspring they quickly become team leaders or what is called matriarchs (Group led by a female).
  • Elephants like to travel and feed in groups but groups will start to split once 10 daughters and grandparents are met.
  • Even though groups split the family dynamics remain for life and smaller herds of elephants will meet with other groups on a frequent basis to meet and greet.
  • Males are tolerated in matriarchal groups until they reach roughly the age of 10-14 years; they are then driven from the groups. Lone males will sometimes meet other males but class often due to dominance.
  • Females are less dominance orientated and hierarchy of matriarchs is determined by many factors such as age, experience, offspring, health and size of the female.
  • Once females become disabled or are unable to feed they will be expelled from groups.

Female elephants are keen communicators; they will use a series of grumbles, growls, snorts, squeals and trumpets to convey messages, emotions, commands and conditions

Elephant Reproduction & Breeding

  • Females come into oestrus for 2-6 days from about the age 3-9 years
  • They convey this message that they are ready to mate through a unique sets of sounds not audible to the human ear at all
  • Studies have shown that these sounds can be heard from at least 4km away
  • The gestation period of elephants is around 22 months, one calf (rarely two) is usually born in the rainy season and although elephant calves can immediately stand they are off balance and clumsy for several weeks of their new lives.
  • Elephants make extremely good mothers and will tend to all of the new infants needs; they will help them across obstacles and trenches.
  • Calves rely heavily on their mothers and will suckle for 4 years, although solid food is introduced at around two years of age.

Mothers are extremely alert to dehydration in cubs and the mother will regurgitate water from her own stomach

Elephant's & their Food

  • Elephants will consume 5 % of their own body weights in a day
  • This amounts to roughly 300kg of food daily
  • Because of the big intake off food elephants are seen as a keystone species (A keystone species is an animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions)
  • Food will take roughly 12 hours to pass through the digestive system of an elephant
  • Trees are pushed over do fruit, bark leaves and branches can be reached
  • Elephants consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots.

More Elephant Fun Facts

  • The largest elephant on record weighed about 24,000 pounds. He was also 13 feet tall.
  • Elephants can get sunburned. They usually use sand or mud as sun block
  • About 100 elephants are killed every day for their ivory.
  • Elephants only sleep about 4 hours each day
  • Elephants don’t actually like peanuts - and they don't eat them in the wild.
  • There are only two distinct species of elephant left in the world: The African elephant and the Asian elephant.
  • An elephant trunk contains 40 000 different muscles
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