Most of us are aware of the fact that African elephants are massive and majestic animals. In fact, they are the world’s biggest living mammals on land. A male African elephant can weigh from 5 tons to 7 tons and grow up to 4 meters in height at the shoulder, while the females are comparatively smaller. A female African elephant can grow up to 2.6 meters in height and weigh up to 4 tonnes. Today, we are going to learn about these massive African elephants.
African Elephant Facts
For an animal of this massive size to be properly fed, a lot of food is required. A fully grown adult African elephant may eat as much as 300 pounds of food on a single day. And as they are herbivores, they only eat grasses, herbs, fruits, plants, and trees. Therefore, to sustain their massive bodies, they need to travel a great distance while foraging for the foods they require. On average, they travel 25-30 km per day.
African elephants are found throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, the rainforests of Central and West Africa as well as in the Sahel desert of Mali. They can be easily identified by their massive ears, long curving tusk or teeth, and extremely versatile trunk.
The huge ears of an African elephant help them to dissipate extra heat under the intense African sun. But the most significant use of their ears is the ability to detect sounds from a great distance. Even from 4 kilometers away, they can hear the call of another elephant! It can go up to 10 kilometers under ideal conditions.
Tusks are modified incisor teeth. Even while they are present at birth, they fall out after a year and are replaced by permanent ones. Their primary function is to dig and hunt for food, as well as to defend themselves. And the trunk is actually a long nose used for many tasks such as smelling, breathing, drinking water, grasping objects, caring for baby elephants, and much more.
African elephants are very intelligent too. In fact, they are one of the most intelligent animals. They can learn through observing and mimicking. They also possess some human qualities like compassion and care for the wounded and grieving the dead. Their strong memory also allows them to recall the lost loved ones, retain grudges, and recognize long-lost friends. In addition, they also welcome back a lost friend by spinning around, flapping ears, and making trumpeting sounds.
The African elephant plays a vital role in preserving diverse African ecosystems. They ingest plants and fruits, travel miles, and excrete the seeds in fertile dung piles. This way, new plants can grow in different areas with enough fertilization from the dung. As a matter of fact, 90 distinct tree species rely on elephants to spread their seeds. But due to poaching and loss of habitat, the African elephant is now listed as Critically Endangered on IUCN red list.
Thumbnail Image, 1: Photo by Photos By Beks 2: By Bernard DUPONT, via Wikimedia Commons 3. By Balagopal, via Pixahive 4: Photo by Clive Kim