This speech will cover the life of endangered African elephants and their unique adaptations.
Introduction : 1 MINUTE Standing at 13 feet tall with giant ears shaped like the continent of Africa. Weighing nearly 10,000 pounds the African elephant has been the largest mammal to walk the earth for over 55 million years. For this massive creature to still thrive on planet earth it was forced to undergo significant adaptations such as their large body size and features, socialization, and reproduction habits. Over the past decades African Elephants have been mostly restricted to parks and preserves due to the poaching for ivory and habitat damage. ElephantVoices of 2010 stated that in only a short ten-year period Africa’s elephant population plummeted from 1,300,000 animals to 609,000 due mostly to ivory hunting. Central Idea: We must take action to help preserve the life of the African elephant and reduce the amount of poaching in the African region. We will first discuss the lifestyle of elephants; next, explore the unique adaptations of their structure; then, overview the life cycle; and finally, understand the importance of putting an end to poaching.
LIFESTYLE SLIDE 4 here you see the two different types of African elephant, the African savanna elephant and the African forest elephant. As you can see the S.E. is larger in size and based on it’s name, its no surprise that they spend most of their time living in the open dry woodlands. The F.E has smaller rounder ears and shorter and more downward pointing tusks. According to Global Safari, a publication of 2007, this is thought to be an adaptive response to the need to move through thick vegetation in the dense tropical rainforest they dwell in.
SLIDE 5 gives an overview of the lifestyle of African Elephants. The herd is made up entirely of related females called cows, and their calves. The oldest female, referred to as the matriarch sets the pace for the herd and leads their activities. Usually at around 13, the bulls abandon the herd and join a bachelor group. National Geographic Society of 1996-2010 notes that elephants roam over great distances while foraging for the large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies. They can consume up to nearly double the weight of an average American-300lbs of grasses, fruits, and a variety of other vegetation in a single day.
SLIDE 6 begins to describe some of the unique adaptations of the African Elephant. It is a well known fact elephants tusks are made up of ivory allowing them to be extremely strong. The main purpose of tusks is for defense, or to battle another bull when searching for a mate. They also use them as an aid for eating when chipping away bark or to dig for food and water.
SLIDE 7 highlights the elephants trunk, the most interesting morphological feature extending 7 feet from its head and weighing 400 pounds. The trunk represents the nose and upper lip of a human. It is the most sensitive body part and its used as a tool for eating, drinking, bathing, and protection. The trunk can hold up to 4 liters of water and lift up to 1,500 pounds. A common misunderstanding is elephants drink entirely through their trunk like a straw when in reality they use it to deliver food and water to their mouth. According to Elephant Information Repository of 2001 at the first hint of danger the elephant will raise its trunk slightly to smell any reason for threat. If an elephant is charging with it’s trunk up, it’s usually bluffing. If it’s trunk it tucked down then they usually means business.
SLIDE 8 covers another unique feature-their ears. MacKenzie od 2001 states that hot blood in the arteries is cooled as it is filtered through the vast network of capillaries and veins therefore, It is common to see an elephant running with its head faced down extending its ears to allow the air to cool off the hot arteries. Elephants have infrared abilities that allow them to communicate and hear warnings up to 100 square kilometers! They use this adaptation to send and receive warnings from great distances about danger.
SLIDE 9 highlights the African Elephants life cycle The Elephant Information Repository of 2001 states the following: Elephants do not confine mating to a specific time of the year. She will begin reproducing as a young adult and continue for 30 years. The female will carry her baby for nearly 2 years and will deliver a calf weighing 200 pounds standing 3 feet tall. After the male finishes his sexual activity he joins the bachelor herd again. The average lifespan of an adult African elephant is 70 years. Just short of the human lifespan.
Slide 9 ElephantVoices of 2010 cited the following: between 1979 and 1989 elephants population fell from approximately 1.3 million individuals to an estimated 609,000 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) ban international ivory sales, stabilizing the number decline in 1990 People slaughter illegally for two primary things, money for their ivory and revenge for their destroyed gardens.
CONCLUSION: 30 sec-1 MINUTE In conclusion, most of the unique adaptations that have occurred over the past million years have been driven by their large size, social interactions and harsh environment that they live and thrive in. Their life cycle and strong family bonds are extremely similar to that of human beings and they are important animals in various cultures. Elephant poaching still remains a problem in some regions of Africa and it is up to continue to protect this endangered specie.
The African Elephant
<ul><li>African elephants stand 13 feet tall </li></ul><ul><li>Weigh 5 tons </li></ul><ul><li>Largest mammal to walk the earth for over 55 million years! </li></ul><ul><li>Due to poaching and habitat loss elephants have been restricted to parks and preserves </li></ul><ul><li>Between 1979 and 1989 the elephants population dropped from 1.3 million animals to 609,000 </li></ul>1
<ul><li>Elephant population dropped half a million in a ten year period </li></ul><ul><li>International ivory sales banned in 1990 </li></ul><ul><li>Poaching driven by wealth and revenge </li></ul>