Basic facts about Elephants
An Elephant is the largest living land animal, they are mammals. There are three species of elephants the African Bush Elephant, the African forest elephant and the Asian Elephant. Elephants are classified as a Pachydermata, the scientifc name for the African Elephant is Loxodonta Africana.
A baby elephant is called a calf and at birth weights about 100kg. The gestation period is 22 months, when the baby calf is ready to be born the whole herd creates a circle around the cow or the mum that is going to give birth to protect both her and the baby, once it has been born the elephants will help the baby stand.
Their life span is between 50 to 70 years but the oldest recorded elephant is 82 years old. Human’s and elephants are very similar in their development they need milk for at least the first two years of their lives but normally suckle until they are 4 years old. Females normally produce their first baby at 15 years old.
The older elephants teach the younger elephants, the young females in the group as well as the grannies help look after the babies. The social structure is very important to elephants; they work as a big family. They hug each other by wrapping their trunks together as a greeting or signs of affection. A baby elephant will suck it's trunk like a baby sucks it's thumb for comfort.
Healthy adult elephants have no natural predators, although lions may take calves or weak individuals. They are, however, threatened by human intrusion and poaching.
What Do Elephants Eat and drink?
Elephants are herbivores, which means they feed on plants. They eat roots, leaves, grasses, tree branches, and tree bark. They also love to eat fruit such as berries, mangoes and coconuts. By using their trunks they tear off even the strongest tree branches. They spend 15 – 16 hours a day on eating and consume 140 – 270 kg
These animals drink water by using their long trunks to suck up about 14 litres of water at a time, then pouring into their mouths. They drink up to 200 litres of water a day, but can go up to four days without water and will use their tusks to dig wells if necessary, an elephant can smell water from 5 km away.
Part of the Elephant and their function
Elephant ears are big heat pads radiate heat to help keep these large animals cool. These huge ears which often are said to be the shape of Africa are hugh airconditioners when they flap thier ears the blood circulates around the ear's veins and returns to the body and head about 3 degrees cooler. An African elephant has lots bigger ears than it cousin the Asian Elephant. Elephants use their ears to display, signal or warn when alarmed or angry, they spread the ears, bringing them forward and fully extending them. Ears are like fingerprints on humans, none are exactly the same.
This is the elephants nose, they have an amazing sense of smell, which is as good as a bloodhound. However the trunk is much more than just a nose it contains about 100,000 different muscles units but six major muscle groups, it can grow to 2 meters long and weight up to 140 kgs. This long nose is used for not only for smelling, but also to breath with, siphoning water with to allow them to squirt it into their mouth to drink, dushing themselves, and exploring thing with. Also a very important function is eating with, they can pull down branches with them but also very delicate movements like picking a berry. They also use them to great and touch each other. It is like a human are or hand they even have two fingerlike features on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items. Elephants also use their trunks to help lift or nudge babies over an obstacle or rescue an elephant stuck in the mud.
Due to their size you would think that elephants crash through the bush making lots of noise but this is not true, they walk sliently and carefully, the underside of there feet are like a shock absorber and are quite spongie. When they walk over a stone for example the foot just moulds over it. They also have toes but the only part we can see is definded are thier toenails.