The Great African Elephant
Behind the African Elephant …
The African elephant is
essentially divided into two
different species, namely the
African bush elephant and the
smaller African forest
elephant. Considered one of
the largest mammals to walk
the earth, it is an animal that is
revered in countries such as
South Africa, affectionately
being referred to as one of the
What about those elephant ears ?
The African Elephant’s characteristic large
ears are not just there for show and tell, but
help to keep this mammoth creature from
over-heating. Its large ears essentially cool the
elephant down, as the African heat can often
be unbearable. There are many images that
depict the elephant frolicking in the African
waters spraying it all over themselves, this is
another cooling method. After this
display, they often shower themselves with
dust, another method of keeping themselves
cool in the African sun.
It’s all about the nose …
The African elephant’s trunk is just another name for nose. Not only
does this animal use its trunk to splash itself with water, but it’s used to
smell, breath and for grabbing things. While we might not be able to
grab things with our nose, the elephant uses this to snatch its next
meal from the tree tops. Along with its enormous weight, the elephant
has approximately 100 000 different muscles in its trunk alone.
One of the most prominent features
that the African elephant possesses is
its trunk. Many consider this feature of
the elephant to be valuable, and as
such, has spawned a black market for
the ivory trade. Both males and female
are equipped with tusks which are
used to dig for food and water, and
strip trees of their bark.
Additionally, the males use their tusks
to battle each other and is often
during mating season. Because the
tusks of elephants are so valuable to
humans, thousands of African
elephants have been killed for their
tusks. The trading if this valuable
resource is not legal, and has
contributed to the poaching of
thousands of African elephants.
Baby African Elephants
While male elephants often roam
around on their own, females
stick to what is referred to as a
herd. When pregnant, female
elephants, or cows, have a longer
pregnancy than any other
mammal. With 22-months to go
before the calf is born, females
usually give birth every two to
four years. At birth calves tend to
weigh around 91 kilograms and
stand at one metre tall.
Facts about African Elephants
• As mentioned before, female elephants live in a herd of about 10
individuals. This herd is overseen by the matriarch, or the oldest
female in the herd, they tend to help each other search for food and
care for calves.
• Elephants not lie down to sleep as their legs give them enough
• They can communicate between herds that are located a number of
kilometres away using sounds that are too low for the human ears.
• Herds are the perfect example of a closely knit animal family, as a
female will only leave the heard if she passes on.
• The normal lifespan of an elephant is 60 – 80 years, and while
elephant graveyards cannot be supported with hard evidence, death
is surprisingly important to them.
More Facts …
• Elephants and humans are the only animals that are known to have
death rituals. If an elephant in the herd passes on, the herd will keep
very quiet and often dig shallow graves, covering the deceased
elephant with dirt and branches. They often stay at the grave for days
of the elephant’s death.
• Elephants are considered one of the most intelligent animals on
earth, with their brain weighing approximately five kilograms. This is
more than any other land animal.
• Elephants often show grief, humour, compassion, co-operation,
playfulness and excellent learning abilities.
The difference between the African and
Asian Elephant …
• Weight: The African elephant weighs
between 4000 – 7000kg; while the Asian
Elephant weighs approximately 3000 –
• Ears: The African elephant’s ears are
much larger, while the Asian elephant is
equipped with much smaller ears.
• Back Shape: The Asian elephant is
equipped with a back that is convex or
straight; the African elephant as a back
that is concave.
The Difference Continued …
• Head Shape: The African elephant’s
head is not crumpled (from front to
back) with no humped structures or
dents. The Asian elephant on the
other hand has humped structures
on its head, along with a dented
• Tusks: The tusks of the African
elephant is bigger in males, but
both genders are equipped with
their signature tusks. In
females, the Asian elephant only
has rudimental tusks, while the
males are equipped with tusks.
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