The Elephant {Loxodonta Africana}

The African Elephant is the largest living land mammal, and one of the 'Big 5' group of animals

South Africa WildlifeElephant {Loxodonta Africana}

The African Elephant is the largest living land mammal, one of the most impressive animals on earth.

The Elephant's muscular trunk serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and a variety of other functions. The long trunk permits the elephant to reach as high as 23 feet. It is capable of powerful twisting and coiling movements used for tearing down trees or fighting.

The trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like structures at its tip. The tusks, another remarkable feature, are greatly elongated incisors (elephants have no canine teeth). Tusks grow for most of an elephant's lifetime and are an indicator of age. They are "right or left tusked" using the favoured tusk as a tool, shortening it from constant wear.

Quick Facts

Size

Up to 11 feet; Weight: 3.5 - 6.5 tons.

Interesting Fact

The elephant is distinguished by its high level of intelligence, interesting behavior, methods of communication and complex social structure. Elephants seem to be fascinated with the tusks and bones of dead elephants, fondling and examining them. The myth that they carry them to secret "elephant burial grounds," however, has no factual base.

Distribution

Elephants are widely distributed throughout central, western and eastern Africa, south of the Sahara, with the forest elephant inhabiting the rainforests of the Congo basin. There are isolated populations in the southern African sub-region.

Habitat

Dense forests to open plains - Clean drinking water and a plentiful supply of food are an elephant's only habitat requirements. They graze and browse and eat up to 600 pounds of food a day. They can be extremely destructive in their feeding habits by pushing over trees, pulling them up by their roots or breaking off branches.

Diet - Herbivore

Elephant graze and browse and eat up to 600 pounds of food a day. They can be extremely destructive in their feeding habits by pushing over trees, pulling them up by their roots or breaking off branches.

Socialisation

Elephants are generally gregarious and form small family groups consisting of an older matriarch and three or four offspring, along with their young. It was once thought that family groups were led by old bull elephants, but these males are most often solitary.

The female family groups are often visited by mature males checking for females in estrus. Several interrelated family groups may inhabit an area and know each other well. When they meet at watering holes and feeding places, they greet each other affectionately.

Reproduction

Single young born any time of the year after a gestation period of 22 months.

Life span

60 to 70 years.

Predators

  • Humans
!

Elephant Conservation Status

  • Vulnerable
  • 8% of the population is poached annually.

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

Addo Elephant National Park: One of the very best places in the country to see elephants, is in the Eastern Cape. Click here to view the Addo Elephant Park.

According to the AWF, humans are the biggest threat to the Elephant, the world’s largest land mammal.

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