African elephant is the largest land mammal on Earth. There are two species of
African Elephant: African savanna, (Loxodonta africana); African forest
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
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.
elephant has very small eyes in relation to its head and has poor
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.
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.
Habitat: 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.
Reproduction: 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
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.
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. Click
to view Itinerary
Elephants Click on thumbnail for large photo
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. Buy
From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK
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. Buy
From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK
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. Buy From (amazon.com) - USA(amazon.co.uk) - UK