An elephant herd can have up to individuals and is led by an old female which is called matriarch.
The older females of a elephant herd are the ones that will decide what the herd does.
The bonds amongst member of elephant herds are so strong
that they are believed to mourn for their dead.
Each elephant has a distinctive character so it is not always possible to generalize about the difference between serious and mock charges.
A lot of this activity initially involves displays of mock threats of bravery.
Most animals will take notice of these threatening displays and take the necessary evasion action.
Males are more aggressive during their musth periods.
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 can possibly killing a large rhino or even a hippo.
They also easily wreck a vehicle when you are on an African safari so please remember these warning signs.
The tail of an elephant is an important indicator to understanding elephant body language. The tail of a relaxed elephant swings from side to side.
The tail of a restless elephant will be held still, often pointing downwards. The tail of an distressed or irritated elephant will be held out in a rigid way.
An irate elephant will normally first mock charge. This usually first involves a lot of ear flapping, head shaking and loud trumpeting.
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.
From the footprint of an elephant it is possible 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 lie down to rest or sleep deeply, as these calves are doing. Entire herds can sometimes be seen lying flat in this way.
Elephants often doze while standing during the heat of the day. They will spend a few hours every night lying down and sleeping soundly.
Some elephants are snorers. When they dreaming they may make vocalisations.
Elephant babies often lie in the shade of their mothers and members of the herd.
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 are not picky about what they browse.
They scan often be seen shaking trees to allow fruit and seed to drop on the ground for food that is to far to reach with their trunks.
African elephants can destructive to habitat when their numbers are not managed effectively.