Standing at the height of 8.2 – 13 feet (2.5 – 4 meters) from shoulder to toe and weighing in at 5,000 – 14,000 lbs (up to over 6,000 kgs) (2.5 – 7 tons) makes the African Elephant the most easily spotted animal in the whole wide world.
Astonishingly amazing! Imagine yourself standing next to this giant. I know, right.
Well, African Elephants are:
We know that African Elephants are really tall, huge and all the above, Now what else do you know about these impressive giants:
Both male and female African elephants have tusks they use to dig for food and water and strip bark from trees. Males use the tusks to battle one another, but the ivory has also attracted violence from poachers, a far more dangerous sort. Sad story.
Well, an elephant gets its tusks when they are around a year old, but the same begin to protrude beyond their lips at 2-3 years of age and continue to grow throughout their lifetime.
An elephant’s trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things—especially a potential meal. The trunk alone can weigh about 140 kg and is usually 6-7 feet long.
Can you imagine that, the elephant’s trunk is taller than you!?
African elephants are known to have large ears “especially the African bush/savanna elephant”, shaped much like the African continent itself. Impressive, right? Elephants are capable of hearing at low frequencies. The large ears are used as fans to cool their bodies on very hot days.
Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals. These gentle giants’ pregnancies last for up to nearly 2 years, approximately 22 months. That is a long time!
Cows (female elephants) usually give birth to one calf every 2 to 4 years. They are able to start reproducing at around 10 to 12 years of age. Interestingly, females are a scarce and mobile resource for the males so there is intense competition to gain access to estrous females.
They are very peaceful and social animals known to live in very large groups known as herds and also are known to have the ability to stick around family for a good duration of their lives. They never stray far from their mothers. Nevertheless, adult bulls (male elephants) will leave the herd to go live the solitary bachelor life.
The matriarch (oldest and most dominant female) is the backbone of the elephant family unit because she provides stability and determines ranging patterns for the rest of the family.
Elephants mourn the death of loved ones or other elephants. When elephants come across deceased remains of other elephants, a silent pause is taken, as the remains are touched with their trunks.
Elephants may destroy trees and shrubs allowing for grasses to grow that other species eat. Aren’t they a caring or what?
As herbivores, elephants consume grasses, tree foliage, bark, twigs, and other vegetation daily.
Since elephants are so large, they require an enormous amount of food. Elephants may spend 12-18 hours a day feeding. Adult elephants can eat between 200-600 pounds of food a day.
Elephants can also drink up to 50 gallons of water a day.
The average lifespan for both African elephant species in the wild is 60–70 years. Research also shows that elephants in the wild live longer than their counterparts in captivity/zoos. Elephants have cycles of tooth rotation throughout their lives. The chewing teeth are replaced six times in a typical elephant’s lifetime.
Elephants are highly intelligent animals that use a variety of different means to communicate with each other. Touching is an important form of communication among elephants.
Vocally, elephants are able to rumble, bellow, growl, and trumpet and physically, they use their trunks, ears, and movements of the head to indicate aggression.
They say an elephant never forgets. This could be because they are extremely intelligent creatures and have brains that can weigh as much as 4-6 kg.
Conclusively, elephants are fascinating animals and there’s a lot more about them that is to be known. Let’s not forgot the cute and cuddly.
African baby elephant facts: