Eight Interesting Facts on the Elephant
- The elephant is big: The elephant is the largest land mammal. A male African adult elephant, which is the larger of the two breeds of elephants, will reach a height of 10 to 13 feet and can weigh up to 15,400 pounds. The male Indian adult elephant will reach a height of 10 feet and can weigh up to 11,000 pounds.
- Elephants grieve: The mother elephant has been observed to mourn the loss of a deceased child. The mourning ritual involves the mother, slumped in stature, trying to revive her child, seemingly in denial of the death. In other cases, elephants have been known to mourn a loved one for years after its death. In some observations, every time an elephant walked past the place that a fellow herd member died, the elephant would pause for several minutes and even investigate the remaining bones.
3. Elephants also celebrate: The elephant has been found to express joy in three primary situations – a new birth, when playing and when greeting another elephant.The elephant will express this joy by engaging in a communal ceremony in which it will spin around as well as both urinate and defecate to express its excitement. The elephant will also stand tall as well as shake its ears and create various sounds including trumpets and roars.
4. Elephants live long lives: An elephant can live up to 70 years. The elephant reaches puberty around 10 to 20 years old for the male and 10 to 11 years old for the female. The female can procreate up until the age of 50, making it one of the few mammals that lives past its reproductive years.
Social Tendencies in Elephants
5. The elephant has a long gestation period: The elephant usually has a gestation period of 22 months and has a new baby every four years. On average, one baby will be born per birth, but in 1% of cases twins are born. The mother will usually care for four children of varying ages at a time.
6. The elephant’s trunk has many uses: The elephant’s trunk has more than 40,000 unique muscles, but no bones. It also has two nostrils, which allows the elephant to breathe. The trunk can obtain up to 11.5 liters of water, which it will then place into its mouth to drink or douse over its body during bathing. It will also use the trunk to gather food and place it in its mouth with the help of two fingerlike projections found at the end of the trunk, which are used to obtain small objects and grass.Finally, the trunk is used to display an elephant’s mood and can also be used as a weapon when it is powerfully thrust around.
7. Elephants live together in herds: The herd is composed on average of ten females as well as their offspring and is led by the largest and oldest female called the matriarch. The matriarch is also related to every female in the herd. Males only join the herd during mating season and young males are usually driven from the heard once they have reached maturity. Males will form their own bachelor groups of 8 to 10 males. The herds travel in a single file line with the elder elephants leading.
8. Elephants show excitement in interesting ways: When excited or angry, the elephant will release an oily material by the name of musth which is produced by a gland between the ear and the eye. The word musth also means "madness" and usually when the substance is released, the elephant is in a dangerous state. The release of musth occurs more frequently in males than in females.
The Endangered Elephant
Elephants live in parts of Asia and Africa. Sadly, both the African elephants and the Indian elephants are now endangered with 25,000 to 30,000 Indian Elephants and 470,000 to 690,000 African elephants living today. The elephant population has been steadily decreasing due to loss of habitat through human settlement and farming as well as poaching. The elephant tusks are widely coveted as a source of valuable ivory from which various items can be made including jewelry and dishes. How can we help to save the elephant?
Save the Elephant
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