Ready for some interesting African elephant facts?



Is it a fact that the African elephant is a highly social African animal?

Yes - African elephants are indeed very social.

The basic stable social unit among African elephants is a group of closely related adult females with their young of various ages.


african elephant habitat


The movements of a family group are directed by the oldest and biggest cow (often referred to as the matriarch) This would be a female that have accumulated her necessary experience over 30 to 40 years.

This female will make most of the decisions about where and when the herd forages, drinks and rests.

If these old cows are shot during elephant hunting their knowledge is lost and the rest of the group will wander aimlessly.


facts about elephants


Males sometimes form small unstable bachelor groups.

Two or three younger apprentices known as askaris may accompany an old male.


African elephant fast facts

Diet: Herbivore that eats any plant material like grass, forbs, the leaves, branches, bark and roots of trees.

Potential life span in the wild: Up to 60 years

Size: Height at the shoulder, 8.2 to 13 ft (2.5 to 4 m)

Weight: 5,000 to 14,000 lbs (2,268 to 6,350 kg)

Group name: Herd

Protection status:  Red data book classification is "Out of danger"


Family groups and males may gather into herds several hundred strong.

If their usual food and water supplies dwindle elephants will move long distances to reach more favorable conditions.

The members of an African elephant family group take good care of one another. If one of them is sick or injured others will stay with it to defend it.

The calves get especially close attention. The adults help them climb steep banks and will protect them from predators.


How dangerous is a charging elephant?

If an elephant goes on a serious charge it is quite capable of killing rhino and hippo, and of wrecking vehicles.

Would you be able to tell the mock charge from an elephant from a serious charge?



How do elephants use their trunks?

facts about elephant trunks

The trunk is essentially a modified nose made of muscle.

The elephant trunk serves it as an extremely skillful and yet enormously powerful two-fingered hand.

The trunk alone contains about 100,000 different muscles.

With this tool an elephant can do things from picking up single seedpods to tearing down massive trees.

An elephant drinks water by sucking 4 liters of water into its trunk and then emptying it down its throat.

It is believed that an elephant can distinguish smells several hundred times better than any dog with its trunk.

The trunk is also used to suck up dust and sand to blow over itself.

In addition the trunk is an important means of communication by touch and smell.

The trunk is important for social interactions among the herd individuals and used for caressing - especially between mother and calf.

Other social interactions may include greeting and demonstrations of dominance or submission via various trunk postures.


What does an elephant use its tusks for?

facts about elephant tuskss

The tusks are used for:

  • digging,
  • for chiseling the bark off trees,
  • and as weapons of defense against predators or
  •  for fighting (among males).

The tusks are the upper incisor teeth and they grow throughout the life of the elephant .

Each elephant uses the one tusk more than the other (similar to being left or right handed in humans).

The favored tusk will get worn down more than the other as the enamel wears off.

Elephant tusks never stop growing.

Older elephants will therefor have the biggest tusks which makes them the priority targets of ivory poachers.


Is there really such a thing such as elephant graveyards?

Elephants show an unexplained fascination with their dead.

They have been recorded as showing an apparent fascination for elephant bones and ivory, picking them up in their trunks, and scattering them over a wide area.

Why they behave like this is unknown.

However the believe that elephants go to special elephant graveyards to die is a myth.

The accumulation of bones and tusks around water holes where starving elephants have congregated during droughts can lead to a higher than usual percentage of accumulated elephant remains.

This could be a reason for the initial myth that such an area would be a place where elephants go to die.


What are the differences between the African and Asian species of elephants?

Asian elephants

African elephant

difference between African and Asian elephants

Crumpled from the front to the back.

Notice the humped area on the top

of the head.

The forehead is dented.

Convex or straight neck.

Weighs 3000 - 6000 kg.


Not crumpled from the front to the back.

No humped area on the top.

Forehead is not dented.

Concave neck.

Weighs 4000 - 7000 kg.

Also notice ----

The African elephants have extremely large ears that can be likened to the shape of the African content.

Similarly the smaller Asian elephant ears can be compared to the shape of the Indian subcontinent.

In the case of the African specie both males and females have visible tusks.

With the Asian specie only males have obvious external tusks.

The females have small tusks that may or may not protrude far enough to be visible.

The Asian specie has one semi-prehensile "finger" to its trunk while the African specie has two of them.


How do African elephants communicate?

Elephants communicate by touch, scent, sight and sound.

Trumpeting sounds signal alarm and aggression.

Groups keep in contact with loud, very low frequency calls, which can carry for at least 2 km.

Cows in heat and bulls in musth advertise their condition by loud rumbles.

Elephants can probably recognize each other, assess emotional states and recognize group membership from the smell of their temporal gland secretions.

The glands open on the sides of the face between the eye and the ear.

This secretion often makes very visible dark streak down the elephant face.


facts about elephants


Elephants that swings their tales from side to side are trying to keep the flies off their body and this usually means it is happy and relaxed.

One sign that an elephant is stressed is that its tail will become stiff and pointed to one side.


How do elephants breed?


Unlike hippos that rely on the buoyancy effect of water for copulation, the African elephant bull does mount the female in the conventional manner on land.

Elephants breed throughout the year.

Males younger than 25 years old are unable to compete for access to females on heat.

From the age of 25 bulls periodically goes into musth as their testosterone levels rise up to six times the usual level.

At this time they walk with their head high and they become very aggressive towards other males, which avoid them.


african elephant unique facts


Musth bulls will fight to the death over access to females.

In the restricted area of the Addo elephant park musth bulls kill young males often enough to slow the growth of the population.

Younger members of the herd act as nannies to calves but all family members takes full responsibility for the protection of the calves.

Between 25 and 35 years they mate, in the female oestrus period when conception is unlikely.


african elephant breeding facts


Males older than 35 years guard and mate with females at the most favorable time for fathering a calf.

Mating takes place at about 8 hour intervals.

Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal—almost 22 months. Cows usually give birth to one calf every two to four years.


What are some interesting baby African elephant facts?


At birth, an elephant calf already weigh some 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and stand about 3 feet (1 meter) tall.

They can stand and walk within an hour of birth.

The calf begins to nurse within a few minutes, using its mouth, not its trunk.

An elephant calf is suckled for at least two years and even after weaning it remains closely bonded to its mother.

When a calf attempts to suck from lactating females other than its mother it will be repelled - usually with a vigorous slap from the cow trunk.

If a calf loses its mother the other females in the group will take care of it.



Young elephants play by splashing and spraying each other with water and mud.

They also wrestle with their trunks and practice fighting in pushing competitions.

They also mock-charge other species such as antelope.


Like this page?

Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Want to know more African elephant information?

Discover :

How do African elephants communicate?

How do elephants breed?

How much does a baby African elephant weigh?

What is the current situation regarding the poaching of elephants?