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All About Elephants

Jan 11, 2016

Elephants are some the largest land mammals on our planet, not to mention some of the most fascinating. Elephants have captured the public's attention not just because of their size, but also because of their rich community and emotional lives. There are two species of elephant: African and Asian. 

African and Asian Elephants

  • The African elephant is very large, and can weigh up to eight tons, while the Asian elephant typically weighs quite a bit less (though still a lot, relative to a human being).  African elephants also have large ears that reach up over their necks, whereas Asian elephants have small ears. 
  • Both species have tusks, though Asian elephants tusks are not as large as those of their African counterparts. 
  • It's pretty common to confuse the two kinds of elephants, because they have a similar shape, and both are easily recognizable as being a related species. However, their genetic differences are actually so many that the two species cannot breed. 

As you can see, there is quite a clear difference between African and Asian elephants.As you can see, there is quite a clear difference between African and Asian elephants.Courtesy of knysnaelelephantpark.co.za

Elephants in Danger

  • Humankind is the biggest danger to elephant life, either from hunting or from habitat loss or degradation. 
  • Humans have a long history of hunting elephants in order to take their tusks for sale in the ivory market. Historically, ivory has been used to make things like piano keys, jewelry, and billiard balls. The ivory trade was banned in 1989, but unfortunately continues today. 
  • Human encroachment on elephant lands is another danger. As people populate more and more of the planet, and build more and more, elephant habitats can become endangered. Because of this human intervention, elephants may not be able to access food and water, or may not be able to complete their migratory routes.
  • Worried about elephants? Consider donating to a wildlife fund that is working to help keep elephant lands safe. 

Can you imagine killing this majestic animal just for its tusks? It's a horrifying practice.Can you imagine killing this majestic animal just for its tusks? It's a horrifying practice.Courtesy of rainforest-alliance.org

Elephant Fun Facts

  • Elephants love to swim and play in the water! Can you imagine how good it must feel to achieve a little weightlessness in the water when you weight eight tons? 
  • Elephants live in female-dominated packs. The leader of the pack is called the matriarch. 
  • Elephants are thought to have amazing recall power. The matriarch of an elephant family can keep track of the locations of up to 30 elephants at one time, and also maintains knowledge of migration routes as well as food and water sources. 
  • Elephants are affectionate, social creatures. They often greet each other by touching and wrapping their trunks. They are also known to grieve deeply when a member of their pack dies. 

This baby elephant is loving the water!This baby elephant is loving the water!Courtesy of animalspot.net

Elephants are complex creatures that have often commanded the interest and compassion of human beings. To members of the Hindu religion, elephants are even considered sacred! 

Have Your Say!

Do you have any elephant fun facts to share? We'd love to hear from you!