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African Elephant

The African elephant is the largest land mammal on Earth. There are two species of African Elephant: African savanna, (Loxodonta africana); African forest (Africana cyclotis)

Description and Characteristics:

The African Elephant has a marked dip between its fore and hindquarters giving a concave curvature to its back. It's ears are large and fan-like and mainly used to control body temperature by the blood circulating through the large vessels in the ears being cooled by flapping. As you would expect they have acute hearing.

Large tusks are present in both sexes, they first appear at the age of about two and continue to grow throughout their lives. Elephants use tusks for peeling bark off trees, digging for roots, herding young, “drilling” for water and sometimes as a weapon. An elephants skin is up to 2.5 cm thick in places

The trunk is probably the most facsinating feature of the elephant - it has two prehensile protrusions at the tip (the Asian elephant has only one). Yje elephants use their trunkcs for eating, drinking, dust and water bathing, as well as an important form of communication. The truck also shows the mood of an elephant, it uses it's truck to ward off other elephants and intruders and also as a punching or thrusting weapon. An elephant has a strong sense of smell and can locate water by smelling the earth above.

An elephant has very small eyes in relation to its head and has poor eyesight.

Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight social units. A family is led by an older matriarch and typically includes three or four of her offspring and their young. Males tend to leave the family unit between the ages of 12 and 15 and may lead solitary adult lives.

Feeding/drinking Habits:
Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating, their daily intake is between 4 and 7% of bodyweight. Elephants drink up to 160 liters of water per day. A mature elephant can carry up to 6.8 litres of water in its trunk. Their diet is varied and includes grass, leaves, twigs, bark and fruit.

Elephants are found, south of the Sahara, in 37 different countries in Africa, but are most popular in Southern and Eastern Africa. Food and water needs to be plentiful.

Size & Lifespan
The male elephant is much larger than the female - Males elephants grow up to 3.5m and Females up to 2.7m. Males can weight up 6 tons whilst females up to 2.7 tons. The life expectancy of an elephant is up to 60 years.

Elephants do not have any specific mating season. The gestation period for elephant is 20-22 months. Calves weigh about 120kg at birth and they are born throughout the year. They are weaned at 3-8 years, generally just before the birth of the next calf. A cow can give birth every 3-4 years

Predators and Threats:
Elephants have no natural enemies for they not a predator themselves and there is no animal large and strong enough to challenge the elephant. However, their future is threatened by increasing human populations which causes the loss of their natural habitat - plus the continuing poaching for ivory trade.

Click to listen to the sound on an Elephant Greeting

Work with Elephants in South Africa
Volunteers contribute to all aspects of elephant conservation. From the creation of sustainable community projects directly linked to elephant tourism to the hands on maintenance of the parks and reserves. You will assist with the day to day running of an elephant Park which provides a home for rescued elephants as well as studying elephants in an untouched wild environment.
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Photos of Elephants
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Books about Elephants

African Elephants: A Celebration of Majesty - Daryl Balfour
a celebration of the most magnificent awe-inspiring land animal on earth. This incredible collection of over 200 photographs, reveals the fascinating lives of African elephants, their individual behavior, and even their intriguing social relationships.
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Elephants - (Worldlife Library) Joyce Poole
". . . an informative and sensitively written primer about African and Asian Elephants by a world authority on these splendid mammals. . . . Excellent color photographs add significant impact to the text. Anyone interested in elephants will welcome reading this fine book.
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Elephant Destiny - Martin Meredith
a wonderful, well written, illustrated book about elephants and their role throughout history, as well as their present state in the world. Covers all the major topics including biology, social behavior, recent scientific discoveries, ancient elephantology, the devastating ivory trade, the truth about elephant graveyards and the insistent threat of extinction.
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Europe Buyers -->click to browse through more books and products about African Elephants

US Buyers --> click to browse through more books and products about African Elephants

Posters of Elephants

Old African elephant bull resting his trunk on his tusk Pride and Joy - Elephants On the Road Again Tolerance
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Other resources about Elephants

Elephant Voices
a comprehensive website about elephant behaviour, communication and conservation

Absolut Elephant
about Elephant facts and information

Space for Elephants
a non-profit conservation, research and educational organisation.

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