Elephants are wonderful animals! They are the largest mammals in the world that live on land. There are two kinds of elephants; African and Asian. Asian elephants have smaller ears and shorter tusks than African elephants.
The African elephant is bigger and taller than the Asian elephant. The largest living mammal on earth is none other than the elephant. With the heaviest mammal weighing around 12000 kgs you can imagine how huge this living giant can be. Its one leg could probably crumble an entire tree or a couple of them.
The gestation period of this mammal is 22 months, the maximum of any mammal in the animal kingdom. And baby calf weighs around 120 kgs. Heavy baby! But as heavy as they may seem they are vulnerable to being hunted by lions who gulp in baby elephants and the weaklings in the herd. As otherwise no animal dare come into close proximity of the elephant, anyway who wants to have their bones crushed.
Other than animals, humans are more of a threat to this breed. As they are poached and hunted for their tusks or a wide scale. Over a lakh of elephants were killed earlier on an annual average. It is only recently in India that laws against poaching have gotten stringent making it difficult to poach them, not impossible. The practice continues although much diminished in Africa. The tusks of the elephant are of pure ivory that is a great material for crafting. To the adult mammal it keeps growing on an average of 7 inches in a year. Summing to sometimes 10 feet in an African elephant and weighing around 90 kgs. Well now we know why they are so healthy, all to carry their own weight around.
The tusks are used to dig water, carry logs of wood for shelter or to clear the trees as these guys make their way through the jungle. An interesting fact about the tusk is like humans who are right and left handed, elephants are right and left tusked. The dominant tusk is a little shorter and rounded as against the other tusk. So you have a right tusked elephant and left tusked elephant. There are many nuances of the elephant that when put light upon bring awe and awareness to the common man.
Do elephants live together?
Elephants live in families. Several families live together in a “herd.” The leader of the herd is usually the oldest female elephant. She is called the “matriarch.” All the babies and other females follow her.
A young male elephant stays with the herd until he is fourteen or fifteen years old. Then, he goes out on his own. The young male will try to find a female elephant for a companion.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants are plant-eaters. Because they are such big animals, they need to eat large amounts of leaves, grass and tree bark. They spend as much as twenty hours a day eating! A full-grown African elephant can weigh more than 10,000 pounds!
Teeth and Tusks
Elephants have four teeth and two “tusks.” The tusks are the long horn-like parts that come out the sides of their mouths. These tusks grow about seven inches a year, and can get up to twenty feet long! The tusks are made of ivory, which is very valuable.
The elephants four teeth are molars. About every four years, the molars fall out and are replaced by new ones. The molars of an adult elephant can be up to ten inches long!
Ears and Trunks
The ears of a full-grown African elephant are about five to six feet long and four feet wide. They sometimes flap their ears to cool themselves.
An elephant’s trunk is actually part nose and part upper lip. Elephants can breathe through their trunks. They can also smell and pick up things with it. They can use it to put food into their mouths, and can even spray water with it! The trunk is used to feel things, too!
How do elephants cool themselves?
When it is hot, elephants like to get into water and mud. They also use their trunks to spray water and dust on their bodies. Wrinkles on their skin trap the water and help with the cooling.
How do elephants talk?
Elephants talk to each other by making sounds called “tummy rumbles.” They also make a “trumpeting” sound to call to each other.
How long do elephants live?
Elephants can live as long as eighty years!
You can see elephants in zoos. Many zoos work hard to keep the elephants happy, by providing them with the kind of habitat they would have if they were out in the wild.
A great number of elephants have been shot so people could get their ivory tusks. People all over the world have tried to stop this cruel killing of elephants. Now, very few are killed for their ivory, and there are laws to protect the elephants.
In the past, many elephants were trained to perform tricks for circuses. They were often treated in a cruel manner. Today, there are laws to protect elephants and to ensure they are well-cared for.
Elephants should be treasured. They are the gentle giants of the animal kingdom!
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