Elephants

Loxodonta Africana

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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

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

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article by: Jonathan Webster

 

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