African elephants are certainly one of our guests favorite wild animals.
They are also the biggest and heaviest land animal on earth. Because they are so big they need to eat a lot and often alter their surrounding sometimes to the detriment of whole ecosystems. However they can adapt and can change their diet to suit their surroundings. For example they can manage without water for more than 3 days in the Ugab river in Namibia and can walk huge distances to get enough to eat and drink.
The tusks are modified upper incisor teeth.
Their tusks are amazing and are used as tools for digging or breaking off branches but also for fighting or defense against predators. It is crazy to think they are so helpful but also a big reason they are killed by humans for ivory.
You may think their ears look funny because they are so big. A bull elephant’s ears can weigh up to 20kg’s each and have lots of uses. Obviously hearing where the huge flap helps funnel sound like a dish. They also express mood around other elephants and very important, they help keep these huge animals cool. Because they are so big they can overheat due to a relatively small surface area. Their ears are 20% of their body surface with a lot of blood vessels. This helps them cool down when they flap their ears, especially when they spray water on their ears. This can drop their body temperature by up to 5 degrees.
Some elephant stats.
Size – Bull 3m at shoulder and cow at 2.5m at shoulder.
Weight – Bull up to 6 tons and cow up to 4 tons.
Lifespan – 55 to 60 years old.
Habitat – Everywhere in Africa with enough food and water, including swamps, rain forests, woodland, savanna, desert and mountains.
Gestation – 22 months.
Food – They are herbivores meaning they eat grass, herbs, sedges, aquatic plants, bulbs, tubers, bark, wood, and entire branches.
Predators – Lions and hyenas prey on the young but they also die of starvation and disease.
You too can come and see these amazing animals up close on one of our overland safari tours in Southern Africa.
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