Elephants are the largest land mammal on earth and are known for their stocky build, long trunks, wide legs and floppy ears.
Interesting facts about elephants:
There are two main species of elephant: the African and the Asian elephant and both live on different continents. There are some subspecies that each belong to one of the main species but it isn’t known how many subspecies exist.
- African elephants are the bigger of the elephant species and can grow to be 2.5 to 4 meters (8.2-13 ft.) measured from the shoulders to the toes and weigh in from 2,268-6,350 kg (5,000-14,000 lbs.). Asian elephants can grow to be 2-3 meters (6.6-9.8 ft.) and weigh in at 2,041-4,990 kg. (2.25-5.5 tons)
- Asian elephants live in Southeast Asia and Nepal, India in rain and scrub forests. African elephants live in Africa in the sub-Saharan areas.
Elephants have incredible appetites that match their size. They eat roots, grasses, bark and fruit and will even use their tusks to pull off the tree bark or dig in the ground for roots. An adult elephant can consume 136 kg (300 lbs.) of food in a day
- Elephants grow enormous tusks and throughout history mankind has slaughtered elephants for the prize tusk ivory. This has led the elephants to near extinction in some areas. Thanks to an international ban on the sale of ivory and the harsh consequences of the laws, there are fewer elephants being killed, although poaching does still exist.
- Elephants exist in a matriarchal society which means the lead elephant is a female.
A group of elephants is called a ‘herd’ and the females group together to share the duties of caring for the young. Adult elephants tend to be solitary and leave the herd after they are old enough.
- Elephants have specific greeting traditions. When they see each other they ‘say hello’ by extending their trunks to each other.
- The elephant has a great respect for members of their herds and when one dies the entire herd will often travel many miles to spend time in a kind of ceremony, touching and caressing the bones of their lost member.
- Female elephants are referred to as ‘cows’ and males are called ‘bulls’.
Female elephants are pregnant for twenty two months before they give birth. A new member of the herd is highly valued. A new baby calf can weigh 91 kg (200 lbs.) at birth and stand 1m (3 ft.) tall.