Animal Name: African Elephant
Scientific Name: Loxodonta Africana
Both male and female African elephants have large tusks which are actually upper incisor teeth that can reach 2 metres
The massive tusks of older bulls can weigh up to 50 or 60 kilograms, but tusks weighing up to 90 kilograms have been recorded.
Of its specialized features, the muscular trunk – serves as a nose, a hand, an extra foot, a signaling device and a tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, digging and a variety of other functions.
The Elephant’s trunk is 2 meters long and can weigh up to 130 kg. It is extremely sensitive allowing him to detect underground water. The sensitive finger-like appendages at the tip of the trunk enables them to pick the smallest twig or flower.
It comprises 40 000 to 100 00 muscles capable of holding 6 liters of water which it can squirt into its mouth for drinking or bathing.
An elephants hearing and smell are excellent but eyesight is moderate and best in dim light. Its large ears serve as a display function and also in cooling the body.
Habitat: The African elephant is found in a wide variety of habitats, including savanna, grassy plains, miombo woodlands and forests, Sahelian scrub, swamps, bushlands and even deserts.
This species occurs over a range of altitudes, from sea level to high mountains.
Distribution: The African elephant occurs largely in eastern, southern and western Africa, although its populations are becoming increasingly fragmented.
Diet: African elephant groups will spend the day wandering their home range in search of food and water. During the wet season, the African elephant feeds mainly on grasses, as well as leaves from a range of trees and shrubs. It will often dig for roots after the first rains of the season, and will also eat flowers and fruits when they are abundant. At other times of the year, the African elephant will also feed on the woody parts of trees and shrubs. An adult elephant requires 160 kilograms of food a day; using its highly mobile trunk it plucks at grasses and leaves, or tears at branches and bark with its tusks, which can cause enormous damage. The African elephant also needs to consume an extraordinary amount of fluid each day, and in the dry season, may dig holes into dried river beds in search of water.
Elephant calves are born after an exceptionally long gestation period of nearly two years, and continue to be dependent on the female for several years. The calves are also cared for by other females in the group, especially by young females known as ‘allomothers’. The social bonds between elephants are very strong, and if faced with danger the group will form a protective circle around the young calves, with the adults facing outwards and the matriarch adopting a threatening pose or even charging the intruder. African elephants are known to care for their wounded and also show recognition of, and particular interest in, elephant bones.