African elephant – facts about the African elephant
The hot African sun rises high in the sky. Waves of moist heat lift from savanna into the air above. But despite the heat, the rolling grassland dotted with trees is full of life. In the tall grass, a herd of zebras grazes, watch full for carnivores such as lions, wild dogs, and hyenas. In the distance, a herd of wildebeest also munches lazily on the green grass. Nearby, a family of elephants frolics in the cool of a muddy river. Some of the elephants suck water up in their huge trunks. They spray the water onto their backs. Others playfully squirt water at one another. After their bath, the elephants cover their skin with mud or dust. This coat protects the elephants from insects and the burning sun. elephant’s skin looks rough, but an elephant’s skin, face, ears, and trunk are sensitive.
But elephants face threats greater than biting bugs or high temperatures. Millions of elephants once roamed over all of Africa. Sport hunting, poaching and habitat loss have cut the population to a fraction of what it once was. Between 1979 and 1989, the elephant’s population dropped from 1.2 million to 600,000. Today only are few small groups of elephants remaining in Africa.
Scientist believe that, without help, this magnificent species may
ears are oval, shaped. Forest elephants also live in smaller family groups. They typically live in the forests of Africa.
Both species are at risk. under the endangered species act, the African elephant is listed as threatened animals are at risk of becoming endangered in the near future. Today only about 500,000 savanna elephants and 40,000 forest elephants live in the wild.
The life of an elephants
some of Africa’s elephants live on savannas. Others live in dry woodland areas south of the Sahara Desert. Still, others are found in mountains or dense tropical rain forests. Elephants play an important role in their ecosystem. They spread seeds from a variety of plants and trees. huge bodies brush against trees and plants, causing nuts and seeds to fall. the nuts and seeds provide food for other, smaller animals. The seeds eaten by elephants are spread to new areas through the elephant’s manure.
Elephants provide water for other animals too. They dig holes in dry riverbeds searching for something to drink. Once they are no longer thirsty, they live the watery hole behind. And their huge footprints trap rainwater for other animals to drink.
The African elephant facts
Both male and female elephants have tusks that they use for defense. But tusks are mainly used as tools. They can be used to dig for water, pry bark off trees, and lift a large item. Like people, elephants tend to favor one side over the other. You can tell if an elephant is right or tusked by looking at the elephant’s tusk size. The favored tusk will be smaller and more worn down.
Elephants use their trunks like human use their hands. Trunk are used to touch and greet other elephants. Elephants are able to recognized hundreds of other elephants through smell, touch, sight, and sound. An elephant’s trunk has about 15,000 muscles, and is about 7 feet (2 M) long. That’s about 20 times more than the human body.
Elephants make a variety of sounds with their trunks to communicate. They have different sounds for happiness, excitement, or trumpet can be heard up to 5miles (8km) away.
Trunks are also used for moving water and drinking.
Adults elephants can suck up to 2 gallons 7.6 liters of water in their trunks at one time. When elephants want to drink, they curl their trunks towards their mouths. Then they stick the tip into their throats. Elephants drink about 30 gallons (114 liters) of water a day.
How do elephants eat?
Elephants don’t chew meals. Instead they move their molars in bark and forth motion to grind their food.
Along with roots bark, elephants eat grass, leaves shrubs, and fruit. Elephants eat around (300 to 600 pounds 136 to 272 kg) of food each day. They use their giant molars two on top and two on the bottom. Each molar is about the size of a brick and can weigh as much as 5 pounds (2.3 kg). an elephant may go through six sets of molars in its lifetime.
Elephants have strong family ties. A typical family includes eight to 15 related female elephants. Elephants calves are cared by their mothers, female without their own calves, called allomothers, also help raise young elephants. The matriarch leads the family.
The matriarch is usually one of the oldest, most experienced females of the family. She uses her life experience to guide the other elephants. she helps them find food and water and watches for danger. Elephants need lots of space. The group may travel in an area of 850 square miles [ 2,200 square kilometers] while searching for food and water. Elephants migrate along ancient routes as the seasons change.
When the dry seasons approaches, the savanna grass begins to die. The family spends the summer near rivers and other water sources that don’t dry up. There, they meet up with other families. They also connect with all- male herds to mate.
In the fall, heavy rains arrive. The elephants return to places where the grass is rich and green. However, the ancient routes elephants follow are being blocked off. Humans build, farms, and roads in the elephants’ paths. Whole groups are cut off from their relatives
To fix this problem, parks and reserves have been set up throughout Africa. Some act as bridges between farmland, allowing elephants to move freely and safely. But more people in elephant territory means more contact between the two species.
Gestation period – life span
Elephants live for a long time. But they also take a long time to be born, nearly two years. An elephant’s gestation period lasts about 22 months. Females reach maturity between 9 and 14 years old. They can have a calf every four or five years. Baby elephants are usually born in the fall, at the beginning of the raining season.
African elephant baby
Newborn elephants stand 3 feet (1m) at the shoulder. They weigh more than 200 pounds (91kg). like all mammals, elephant calves need their mother’s milk and a lot of it. A calf can drink 10 gallons (38 liters) of milk each day. Calves stay very close to their mothers and the allmotherss. The African savannah is a dangerous place. Lions, crocodiles, leopard’s, and jaguar are only a few of the animals that prey on baby elephants.
African elephant lifespan
- Calf is born after a 22 months’ gestation period
- 9 months old, elephant’s teeth begin to grow in, grasses and small branches become part of the diet.
- 1-year-old, begin to eat more and more vegetation
- 12 to 14 months old, elephants still considered a baby
- 4 to 5 years old, calf is weaned from mother’s milk
- 10 years old, females reach maturity
- 10 to 12 years old, males leave to join all male herds or live alone
- 20 to 30 years old, males reach maturity
- 50 to 60 years old, elephants reach the end of their lives
Mothers. Allmothers, and older sibling teach young calves what to eat and where to find food. Calves are also taught how communicate with other elephants. This constant contact strengthens the bond within the family. Young elephants reach maturity in their early teens.
Females stay with the herd their whole live. Males leave on their own or with a group of other male elephants. Elephants reach middle age near their 30th year, as elephants near 60 years old, the fine hair on their heads may turn a silvery gray. Their skin becomes more wrinkled. Their ears may become more frayed at the edges. Their teeth begin to wear down, making eating difficult. These are all signs an elephant is nearing death. (Elephant sadness; elephant experience grief and loss. because they live for so long, an elephant can form a relationship that lasts for decades, the loss of a family member is difficult to forget) scientists have noticed behavior changes in elephant, the death of a matriarch is especially hard.
Threatened animal – why African elephants is at risk?
Humans are the majors threat to animals in Africa and world at large, threatened animal in Africa are mainly taking the live of elephants. Elephants been hunted for their tusks, meat and hides since Europe begun colonizing Africa in the late 1800s. before that time, people and animal lived in a peaceful coexistence. But by the 1970s, the demand for tusk ivory resulted in the killing of millions of threatened animal in Africa.
Without the ivory ban that was passed in the 1980s, elephants might be extinct today. But the hunting still continues. More than 38,000elephants are poached every year. A poacher in Zimbabwe may face up to a $20,000 fine. However, one tusk can bring in around $1,000. To some, the risk is worth it. Poaching a single elephant harms the entire elephant family. When a matriarch is killed, the family loses her valuable knowledge. They also experience grief over the loss of an important family leader. More than 1 billion people live in Africa. And that number keeps growing. Africa has highest birth rate of any other continent. In the next 40 years, the population is expected to double in size.
As the population grows, to towns and cities grow too. Farmers plant more food to feed the people. This growth means that there less land for elephants, who are forced from their homes. Human development such as farms, roads and houses block the migration route that elephants have traveled for thousands of years. They cannot get to their regular food sources. To avoid starvation, they eat farm crops. Angry people try to chases the elephants away. Sometimes they kill an elephant. Other times, an elephant protecting its calf accidentally kills or injures a person.
Some people use chili pepper to protect their homes. The elephants don’t care for the peppers smell and stay away. Others build fences to keep elephants out. While the fences often work, there are also dangerous. Baby elephants can get caught in the fences and die. Adults who get caught risk deep cuts, which may lead to infection. And gentle elephants caught in fences make easy targets for hunters.
Like all of earth creature’s elephants are now also in danger from global warming. In Africa temperatures climb and rainfall decreases. Droughts become more common. Elephants depend on rainfall for drinking water. The rainfall also helps their food sources grow. But and human development means that elephants have fewer places to go to find water and food. Many elephants die in droughts. Queen Elizabeth national park Uganda and Amboseli national park in Kenya recorded huge losses in 2008 and 2009. A drought, coupled with poaching, killed nearly 400 of the parks 1,550 elephants. 95% of the matriarch died making the loss even more shocking.
- Human development
- Habitats loss
- Global warming
In conclusion, you and I can participate in saving endangered animals like elephants no matter what your age or geographic location. The efforts of kids like you are helping save the elephants every day. But there’s still a lot do! Don’t be afraid to make a difference. The future of the elephant depends on you.