The African elephant
The African elephant is larger than the Asian elephant. He is the real king of Africa and not the tiny lion in comparison to this beast. Elephants are vegetarians. They eat leaves all day long. Also while walking from one place to another they will regularly break a branch of a tree with their trunk to eat leaves. They eat hundreds of kilos a day and drink tens of liters of water. The elephant is basically a peaceful animal. But like all animals, it takes a protective and offensive attitude when it is in charge of a child.
- Naming elephant
- Characteristics elephant
- Communication elephants
- Elephants and trees
- The elephant’s trunk
- What does an elephant eat?
- Elephants in the bath
- Mud bath
- Elephants and fruits
- Where do most elephants live?
- The death of an elephant
- Elephants and humans
- Elephants and cigarette smoke
- The ivory of elephants
The Latin name of the African elephant is Loxodonta Africana. In English it is called African elephant. The English will often abbreviate the word elephant to ´ellie´. It is useful to know the English names of animals when you go on safari to Africa. English is the main language among safari-goers. Sometimes you can do a safari on an elephant, this is also called an ´ellie ride´.
An adult male elephant weighs about 6,000 pounds. He eats 270 kilos of vegetable food a day and drinks about 160 liters of water every day. It can hold about 9 liters of water in its trunk. The elephant is the largest land animal in the world. When an elephant is approximately 55 years old, he will be expelled from the herd. He is then considered not strong enough by the other males. Relatives of elephants don’t fight each other to the death like hippos do. When young elephants are about 15, they will visit the older, single male elephant. This can teach the younger elephants how to survive in the wild.
Elephants have two ways of communicating with sound. First, they can trumpet with their trunks. That sound reaches several hundred meters and is also audible to humans. They have a different means of communication that is not audible to people. They make use of low-frequency sounds by stamping their feet. This allows them to ‘feel’ where their peers are over a distance of 20 kilometers. The elephant’s foot contains sensitive sensors that can detect the low sound vibrations on the ground. With these sensors they can also sense where buffalo are or from where a car is arriving.
Elephants and trees
Elephants can damage trees considerably. They can easily break a young not too thick tree. The elephants can scrape the bark off some older trees, such as the baobab tree or monkey bread tree. Sometimes the tree does not survive. When an elephant knocks over an acacia tree, this tree often lives on, lying on the ground. Eventually enough trunks will rise again. Elephants are also called the gardeners of Africa (gardeners) because they strongly influence the appearance of the landscape. They can also plant trees. Ilala palms are often lined up in a row. When you see that you know that you are on an old elephant path. The elephants do not fully digest the palm nut of the ilala palm. The elephant dung will cause the ilala palm nut to sprout faster on the ground.
The elephant’s trunk
The trunk is the elephant’s most prominent body part. This colossus of Africa can do several things with its trunk. They are listed below:
- It can store and drink 9 liters of water.
- He can spray water over himself through his trunk to shower himself.
- The elephant feeds on the tusks and trunk.
- He can trumpet with it.
- He can entwine his trunk with that of another elephant to underline the good relationship.
- He holds up his trunk to smell it.
What does an elephant eat?
An elephant has a varied menu. The mopani tree and acacias are the most loved trees for an elephant. He also eats a lot of grass. It can feast on the fruits of the amarula tree, the ilala palm and African wild dates. He also eats the tubers of a water lily. He pulls the water lily out of the ground and then hits the lily on the water to rid it of soil.
Elephants in the bath
Elephants bathe at least once a day. They often live in woodlands, which are areas of land where there are too few trees to call it a forest, but too many trees to call it savannah. A woodland or forest land is a transitional stage between forest and savanna. In the rainy season, water holes or drinking places can be found on the savannas. Here the elephants go to bathe. Loose sand can often be found in these places. They throw the loose sand over their own back against the ticks. They do this after bathing. This creates a thin layer of mud on the back which protects them against ticks and the heat of the sun. When there are too few watering holes in the dry season, the elephants migrate to the rivers. In the right time, you can see 50 to 70 elephants from some hotels, such as at The River Club on the Zambezi River in Zambia. In areas where there is not much water, an elephant can enjoy a mud bath. He rolls in all the way, making him look slightly smeared.
A bath is not always available in Africa. Sometimes only a mud bath is available. Elephants love that. They can even make a mud bath on their own during times of rainfall. They stamp their feet back and forth and ensure that a pool is filled with their trunks. By spraying the mud on their backs, they protect their skin against sun and ticks. Other animals later use the mud bath created by elephants. Warthogs also love to roll in. Antelopes can drink from it.
Elephants and fruits
Elephants love fruit. In some villages they come to the fruit. They can smell fresh papaya, mango or amarula from miles away. With mangoes and especially amarula it is the case that the fruit can ferment in the belly of the elephant. This can create alcohol and the elephant gets drunk. Then you have to be extra careful.
Where do most elephants live?
Most elephants are found in Africa in Zimbabwe. The elephants are by no means threatened with extinction, although they have largely disappeared from South Africa because people there value agricultural land more than nature parks. Of course there are some large nature parks in South Africa where the elephant is abundant, but in South Africa elephants are also shot if they come too close to inhabited areas. That does not happen in Zimbabwe. Here elephants are only shot if they cause too much damage and the meat is then bought by restaurants. In many African countries you can eat game meat such as elephant, crocodile and warthog.
The death of an elephant
Elephants can only roam in Africa. It is almost always an old male, also called a bull (bull). An older elephant no longer walks with the group. Eventually, an old elephant will go and find a place where it will die. Elephants often die of natural causes, provided a poacher does not shoot them. He is looking for a place somewhere under a tree to sleep in forever.
Elephants and humans
During a safari, elephants generally turn out to be sweet animals that do not attack a safari vehicle. It is possible that a safari car gets too close and an elephant gives a warning signal. In theory, he can charge. That happens more often when the elephants are attacked by hunters. The elephants will then distrust any safari car and want to attack. For that reason alone, it makes sense that the hunting of elephants is prohibited.
Elephants and cigarette smoke
Elephants hate cigarette smoke. When they smell that, they can get very angry and attack. Due to the predominant cigarette smoke, elephants are no longer able to smell where delicacies grow. There is a well-known story about Prince Bernhard. He did a safari in the last years of his life and wanted to smoke a cigarette in front of a group of elephants outside the safari car. The elephants smelled that and rushed towards him and the car. Prince Bernhard had difficulty walking in those days and had to be rushed into the safari car. They left just in time so that the elephants could not vent their anger on the overconfident prince.
The ivory of elephants
A tusk can weigh up to nine pounds. It takes decades for a fallen tusk to decay due to wind and weather. The ivory from an elephant’s tusks is worth a lot of money, making the elephant a target for poachers. The ivory trade is tightly regulated by organizations such as CITES and the World Wildlife Fund. When a shipment of ivory is discovered, even if it comes from an elephant that has died of natural causes, the ivory is burned. Even if an elephant has died, African people are obliged to report it to the World Wildlife Fund, which will then ensure that the tusks are sawed off and burned. This is a strange act as it drives up the ivory price so that poaching becomes even more lucrative and more frequent. Still, the burning of ivory is carried out by the WWF. Elephants are by no means threatened with extinction. In Botswana, one national park called Chobe has counted 200,000 elephants. The actual numbers of elephants are much higher than several animal welfare organizations are willing to admit.