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African Elephant

Updated on February 24, 2016

Genus Loxodonta

African Elephant Description

 It can be hard to measure and weight an African Elephant due to their huge size. However, that has been done and we know how that they can range from 9 to 14 feet tall when they are adults. They can also have a weight ranging from 7,500 to 14,000 pounds. Both the males and the females are considered to be the largest land animals in the world even though the females are often on the smaller side of the numbers.

The males tend to be on the larger side of things with the females being on the smaller side. Even the smallest of the African Elephants though are very big and amazing animals. Both the males and the females will develop tusks that get longer as they get older. These tusks help them to dig when they need to for water or to remove bark from trees. The males also use their tusks to fight each other from time to time.

African Elephant Anatomy

 Just as these animals have an enormous size, so are their tusks. They can be close to 100 pounds each. They can also span the distance of about 8 feet on the older males. These ivory tusks though are one of the main reasons why so many of them have been slaughtered though in the past.

What is up with the large ears on elephants? Many people remember the movie Dumbo with the baby born with enormous ears. However, they all need to have large ears so that they have a way to cool down their bodies. Due to their overall mass, it is possible for them to get too hot. This cooling mechanism is one that they can work automatically and it also doesn’t require too much of their overall energy.

Another way that they are able to cool down is by tossing dirt or water onto their backs. This helps to protect them from the direct sunlight. They accomplish this task by picking the dirt or water up with their trunk and then curling it backwards. That trunk has over 100,000 working muscles so they are able to accomplish quite a bit with it.

In addition to the normal things including smelling and breathing, it is a valuable tool for them. They can use the trunk to pick up things due to the two finger like grips that are at the end of it. They can remove entire stumps if they have to due to the strength found in this one part of their body. Take a close look at the powerful legs too that are necessary in order for such a huge animal to successfully move around all day.

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African Elephant Evolution

 Only a few basic things are understood about the evolution of the African Elephant. DNA testing on the remains of mammoth have proven that they are closely related. There are many out there that believe the size of them is due to evolution as well. The theory is that they were once small like pigs but grew to be able to benefit from the foods at the top of the trees instead of being limited to only what is on the ground.

African Elephant Behavior

 There has been plenty of observations of the African Elephant and it is fascinating. Many people don’t realize that the males don’t stay with the herds though. Instead they will leave when they are mature, which is about 4 to 6 years of age. They will go to live alone or sometimes with other bachelors. The older they are the more likely they are to be alone though.

The females though are very social and very protective of each other. It is common for them to spend a large span of time with each other since they can live up to 60 years in the wild. They do what they can to provide food for each other and to help with the young. They are a very giving and generous community and it is easy to see their bonds that have developed. When one of them dies the entire herd will mourn for it as it is a very big loss for them.

They communicate through a variety of loud sounds which include trumpeting, low grunts, and more. There is plenty we still don’t know about their communications with each other. What is known though is that they are able to express feelings and even encouragement through sounds a well as touching.

Generally the African Elephant is able to successfully live in the wild for a period of about 60 years. A common cause of death is that their teeth start to wear down as they get older. When they eventually have worn away too much they won’t be able to consume food anymore. They will end up starving to death. The elephant will say its goodbyes to the rest of the herd and move on to die alone. It is believed this is how the areas often referred to as Elephant Graveyards have come to develop in the wild.

African Elephant Habitat

 They live in areas where they can find plenty of food. They are only found in the wild in areas of Africa though. Some of them live in the Savannah desert while others prefer the forests where they many trees offer them lots of food. The biggest problem though is that they end up having to try to get through the close areas so they can even be seen clearing paths.


African Elephant Feeding Habits

 The African Elephant has to consume a large amount of food each day. The bigger they get the more then will need. When one is full grown it can require as much as 600 pounds of food daily. That can mean half of each day is spent on feeding alone. Their food sources include leaves, plants, pulp, bark, and fruits that may be growing in the trees. Most of the time they eat at levels that other animals can’t reach but will go to ground level if necessary to get enough food.

African Elephant Reproduction

 They tend to not reproduce until later in life. They don’t have a particular time of year when they have to take part in it though. Instead they can mate throughout the year. The won’t mate though in drought conditions or when they aren’t getting enough food. This is why when it rains and food is plentiful that you will see more of them engaging in the mating process.

It can take up to 22 months from conception for the young to be born. They are fed milk from their mother for a period for a period of 4-6 years. They grow very fast though and will be introduced to other foods after about the first year.

African Elephant Predators

 The adult African Elephants really don’t have a problem with predators. However, their young can become a meal if they aren’t careful. There are wild cats out there often able to snatch them quickly if they wonder.

The fact that villagers hunt these animals, make them work and not allow them to mate, and that they are killed for their ivory tusks has created some huge issues for them. Even with the ban on ivory trade it continues to occur.



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    Elephant 7 years ago

    The one in the below picture looks really sick.

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    Sukhjit 7 years ago

    Cool information.It was just the information I needed for my school project. Thanks.

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    catilyn 7 years ago

    cool i lrined a lot hope you find what you are for have fun