The larges mammal on earth is also one of the most social.
Each elephant has a distinctive character so it is not always possible to generalize about the difference between serious and mock charges.
Generally though an aggressive elephant raises its head and trunk, extends its ears, trumpets and throws up clouds of dust by kicking the ground and shaking its head.
A lot of this activity initially involves displays of bravado and can considered to be mock displays.Any specie in its right mind will take notice of these threatening displays and take the necessary evasion action.
If the elephant however realizes that attempts to intimidate have failed and still feels threatened, the elephant will likely then sway backwards and forwards before it charges.
In a serious charge the ears are held back against the neck and the trunk is tucked up against the chin.
Most charges are stopped before the target is reached.
If an attack is followed through an elephant is quite capable of killing rhino and hippo, and of wrecking vehicles.
At top speed an elephant can travel at 25 miles/h (40 km/h).
However their biggest asset is not their speed.
Their primary defense is their sheer bulk, tusks and trunk as well as their strength in numbers.
Adult elephants have virtually no enemies except humans.
Elephant facts indicate that they seem to have one of the best memories of all animals.
The long lifespan of elephants do require that they have a good memory.
There is proof that elephants have recognized urine samples from group members they had been separated from for a few decades.
This good memory is very beneficial for survival when knowledge about where to find food, water and security is very useful during extreme climatic cycles.
Its footprint can determine the height of an elephant.
For males shoulder height is approximately 5,8 time the length of the hind footprint (and in the case of females 5,5 times).
An elephant’s foot generally measures 40 - 50 centimeters in length and width and has a circumference of about 1.34 meters.
The footprint can also indicate the age of an elephant.
Younger elephants leave a more defined footprint than older elephants that might have smoother ridges and well-worn heels.
All mammals can be divided into different groups based on their foot posture while standing.
Elephants fall into a group called near-ungulates, which refers to the fact that they have toenails rather than hooves.
An elephants foot is designed in such a way that elephants actually walk on the tips of their toes.
African elephants have 4 nails on their front feet and 3 nails on their back feet.
These nails are worn down and do not always show on their footprints.
The sole of the foot is covered in a thick epidermal layer tissue that acts like shock absorbers.
This allows the elephant to move surprisingly silently.
The ridges and grooves give it a good grip some stability when walking over a variety of terrains.
The reason that elephants can walk so quietly is in part due to the fibro elastic layer providing a spongy cushion on the bottom of the foot.
This allows the foot to mould over objects on the ground thereby effectively smothering the objects beneath it.
African elephants can sleep standing up for a few minutes at a stretch but they do lie down in order to sleep more deeply.
They even snore at times.
They will also lie down in the heat of the day for an hour or two.
Elephants enjoy showering by sucking water into their trunks and spraying it all over themselves.
Afterward, they often spray their skin with a protective coating of dust.
If it is possible an elephant goes to water once a day to drink, bathe and wallow in mud.
On average an elephant will drink 70 to 90 liters a day but it can down 150 liter when thirsty.
Wallowing in mud is an important activity for elephants. It cools them off and it protects its skin against parasites.
In deep water an elephant will immerse itself completely. Elephants can swim across lakes and rivers with only the tip of their trunks showing.
Elephants shower themselves with dust and sand for the same reasons.
Sand also acts as a useful substance to help dislodge ticks when the
elephant rubs itself on rocks and trees.
Elephants eat a very wide variety of plants.
In summer grass forms the bulk of their diet, replaced in winter by woody plants.
Once the sixth row of teeth is worn away the elephant cannot chew its food properly anymore, and it slowly starves to death.
Elephants browse unselectively.
They pull off and eat twigs as well as leaves and will tear large branches off trees or demolish the tree itself to get at leaves that are out of reach.
African elephants are wasteful and destructive feeders but under natural conditions the long-term ecological effect are beneficial.
When elephant populations are confined and improperly managed serious habit degradation occurs.