The Largest Land Animal
An Elephant is a huge animal with a huge grey body and strong legs that looks like pillars. It has a long trunk instead of the short nose that we have. It also has large flapping ears. Most elephants have tusks, too. These are extra-long teeth, which continue to grow throughout the elephant’s life. The female is called a cow. Elephants live in groups called herds. The Elephant belongs to a group of animals called mammals. Other mammals include lions, horses, and humans.
Types of Elephants
There are 3 species, or types of elephants. They are the African, African forest and Asian elephant is called the Indian elephant. Look quickly and you may think the African and African forest elephants appears the same. But there are some differences. The African forest elephant is smaller. It has a hairy trunk. Its tusks point downwards so that they do not get tangled up in the vegetation in the forests where it lives.
The largest elephants are more than 11 feet (3.4 meters) tall and weigh about 12,000 pounds (5,443kilograms). These elephants live on grasslands in central and East Africa. Their rounded ears are as large as a blanket. Their tusks weigh about as much as you do. Some African elephants live in forests. They are a bit smaller and have longer, straighter tusks. Asian elephants look quite a bit different from their African cousins. They are usually no more than 9 1/2 feet (2.8 m) tall and weigh about 8,000 pounds (3,629 kg). They have lighter skin with less wrinkled, two bumps on their forehead, and a rounded back. Their ears are small and triangle-shaped.
No female Asian elephants and only some males have tusks. Asian elephants live in the tropical rain forests of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Elephants are the largest animals that live on land. Most animals, including humans, stop growing when they become adults. Elephants keep on growing as long as they live. The largest elephants are the oldest elephants. It is easy to tell how an elephant feels. When an elephant feels calm and safe, it holds its ears flat against its body. When an elephant is angry or frightened, it holds its ears out straight. When two elephants are happy to see each other, they flap their ears, click their tusks, and make rumbling noises. They also may wrap their trunks together or lift their trunks in the air and touch each other on the forehead.
Where Do You Find Elephants?
The African and African Forest elephants live in Africa. They are mainly found in East Africa, on tropical grassland known as Savannah. The Savannah is a vast open plain covered in grass and a few trees. The Asian elephant is found across South and South East Asia. They live on grassland and in forests. The Asian elephant has become little domesticated as it has been captured and kept by humans for thousands of years.
Trunks and Teeth
An elephant’s trunk can be longer than a man is tall. It has no bones but contains more than 100,000 muscles. It is strong enough to lift an object that weighs more than 100pounds (45 kg) and sensitive enough to pluck a delicate flower out of the ground. An elephant’s trunk is a cross between a hand and a nose. It can grab branches 20 feet (6 m) above the ground, and it can smell sweet bananas figs more than 2 miles (3 kilometers) away. An elephant also uses its trunk to breathe, trumpet warning calls, and gather food.
An elephant uses its trunk to smell. The trunk is formed from the elephant’s nose and upper lip. There are 2 nostrils that run down the whole trunk. Smell helps to keep the herd together. It allows elephants to detect predators such as lions or tigers. At the first of danger an elephant raises its trunk to smell the air. Elephants can pick up small objects with the end of their trunks, in the same way that we use our fingertips.
An adult elephant eats about 300 pounds (136 kg) of plant material every day. Most elephants feed in the morning and late afternoon. They rest in the mid-afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. During the rainy season, food and water are easy to find. Each day, elephants travel about 6 to9 miles (9.6 to 14.5 km) in search of food. During the dry season, elephants must travel farther to find food and water. Some may travel up to 30miles (48 km) each day.
An elephant does not chew its food like you do. Instead of lifting its teeth up and down, an elephant grinds its four molars back and forth. You will have two sets of teeth during your life—baby teeth and permanent teeth. An elephant has six sets of teeth. ‘When one set wears out, a new and larger set grows in. An elephant’s final teeth are about 12 inches (30 centimeters) long and weigh about10 pounds (4.5 kg) each.
If an elephant lives to be more than about 60 years old, its last set of molars wears out, and the animal dies of starvation. Many elephants also have two tusks—long front teeth that keep growing throughout the animal’s life. Elephants use their tusks to defend themselves from enemies, to knock over small trees and peel off the bark, and to dig for water, roots, and salt. An elephant’s two tusks are never the same. One is always shorter because the animal uses it more. Just as people are right-handed or left-handed, an elephant can be right-tusked or left-tusked.
All about Elephants
The earliest relative of the elephant lived about 45 million years ago. At one time, about 350 kinds of elephants lived in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Today, elephants exist only in Asia and Africa You might be surprised to learn that the closest living relative of the elephant is a small animal called the hyrax. An elephant and a hyrax do not look alike on the outside, but their insides are a different story. Some of their bones and organs look almost the same except for their size. The elephant and the hyrax both belong to a larger group of animals called mammals. Cats, mice, and humans are mammals too.
All mammals have a backbone that supports their body and helps them move. They also have lungs and breathe air. They are warm-blooded animals, so their body temperature stays about the same no matter how cold or warm their surroundings are. Baby mammals grow inside their mother until they are ready to be born. Then they feed on mother’s milk until they are ready for solid food. A baby elephant may nurse for more than 2 years. All mammals have one more thing in common which is hair. You might think that an elephant has no hair, but it does have some around its ears, eyes, and mouth. An elephant also has a bunch of thick hairs at the end of its tail.
An elephant family usually consists of ten to fifteen Related cow and their babies or calves which calls as a “herd”. A typical herd is made up of three or four adult females and their calves of different ages. The oldest, wisest cow leads the group. She is called the matriarch. The matriarch decides when the group will feed land when it will rest. She knows where to find trees with tasty fruit and how to locate water during droughts. The herd gets larger as more calved are born, so some of the females may leave and form their own herd. Elephant families sometimes join to form large, temporary herds. When male elephants, or bulls are about 10 years old, they leave their family. They live alone or form a loose group with other bulls.
Life of Elephant
After mating with a bull elephant, a female elephant is pregnant for 22 months. She gives birth to only one baby at a time. There are rare instances where twin baby elephants born. The baby elephant is known as calf. A newborn calf has gingery hair over its head and back. It gradually loses this hair as it gets older.
The calf feed on its mother’s milk for the 1st 3 years of its life. Then it starts to eat grass and other plants. It also has to learn how to behave around the adult members of the herd. A female elephant is old enough to have a calf when she is about 17 years old. She will have 6 or seven calves during her lifetime. She stops mothering when she reaches 50 years of age.
The birth of a baby elephant is a special day for the herd. All the elephants crowed around the mother to touch her new calf. The elephants are overly excited and make a lot of noise.
The calf becomes an adolescent elephant once it stops drinking its mother’s milk at about the age of three. By this time, it has teeth, which means it can eat plant food. It has also learned to use its trunk to find food.
Female elephants keep growing until they are about 20 years of age. They do not grow much after this. Bull elephants, however, continue to grow until they are about 30 years old.
While they are growing up in the herd, the young bulls play together. They charge at each other and make lot of noises. When they leave the herd, they live on their own or join other males. The adult bulls only rejoin the herd when a female is ready to mate. Then they go off on their own again. Young bull elephants leave the herd at around 13 to 15 years of age.
Once elephant calves stop taking milk from their mother, they become plant eaters or herbivores. This happens when calves are about three. Once they start to eat plants, elephants use their trunks to reach food. They also use their trunks to feed from the ground. The adults help the younger elephants to feed by pulling down branches for them.
Elephants use their tusks to dig for food and pull down trees. Calves have tiny milk tusks which are only 5 to 6 cm long. These drop out before the calf reaches 2 years of age and are replaced by permanent tusks. A tusk grows from a small tooth at the front of the elephant’s mouth. It is made of ivory.
What do Elephants Eat?
During the rainy months, elephants eat mostly grasses. During the dry months they eat shrubs, twigs, and bark. They eat flowers, fruits, and roots all year round.
Elephants, same as humans use different senses to communicate with each other. Elephants make rumbling sounds to talk to each other that we cannot hear. They make these sounds with the voice box in their throat. These rumbles can be heard by other elephants as far as 9 km away. Most elephant talk takes place during the afternoon.
Elephants great each other by touching with their trunks.
Elephants make a trumpeting sound with their trunks when they are excited, Surprised or when they are about to attack. They also squeal, cry, scream, roar, snort, and groan. As they get older elephant calves learn to make all these different sounds. As their body gets bigger and their trunk gets longer, they are able to make louder sounds.
Adult elephants flap their ears or raise their trunk and tail to communicate with each other. These are warnings to other animals that the elephant is angry. Touch is important, too. Elephants of all ages touch each other with their trunk when they meet.
How Elephants Move?
Elephants are such large animals that they need a strong skeleton to support their body. Elephants normally have 20 ribs which form a huge barrel-shaped ribcage. Around their bones are muscles. Muscles are attached to bones and when they contract, they pull on the bone to make it move.
Elephants can walk and run, but they cannot leap or jump loke many other mammals. They walk at a speed of up to 13 km per hour. To walk faster they take longer, quicker strides. Sometimes elephants climb up slopes, or slide down them. Elephants can walk almost silently because they have a spongy cushion on the bottom of their feet, which muffles any noise.
How Elephants Stay in Cool?
Elephants live in hot climates. Their large bodies heat up in the sun. So, they often need to cool down. One way they do this is by visiting water holes or rivers and having a swim. Elephants spend hours resting by water. The calves like to throw water over each other.
Elephants also love to wallow in mud. A covering of mud helps to protect their skin. It acts like sun block, which is what we use to protect our skin from the sun.
During the hottest part of the day, elephants stand in the shade to stay cool. A calf’s skin is very sensitive to the sun. The mother elephant stands over her calves and young to shade them. As an elephant gets older, skin gets thicker.
Elephants in Danger
People have been hunting elephants for thousands of years. Most of these hunters did not eat the elephants’ meat or use their hides. All they wanted were the animals’ ivory tusks. Jewelry and figurines made of ivory are prized for their beauty, making ivory high valuable. In the 1980s, scientists announced that if elephants were not protected from human hunters, they would all be dead by 2000. Many people were upset by this news and worked to get a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory.
The ban has helped elephants. Today there are around 400,000 elephants left in the world. Out of them a small potion goes to the Asian elephants. These animals face many dangers. Some people hunt them illegally. Other people build farms and towns in the places where elephants used to live. As the animals’ natural habitat is destroyed, it gets harder for them to find food. Elephants play many important roles in their ecosystem.
By knocking over trees and eating bushes, they keep grass lands open. This helps zebras, and other plant eaters. During dry seasons, elephants dig up riverbeds and find waters at many animals can drink. If elephants disappear from Earth, many other animals may vanish too. We must do everything we can to protect elephants.
Elephants are suffering because their habitat is being damaged. Forests are cut down for timber. Grasslands are used for grazing cattle and growing crops. There is less food and space for elephants. Today most of the elephants are found in national parks. There are so many elephant-human conflicts as elephants comes to the villagers and use their familiar lanes to cross the roads and villages. It is important to improve the awareness of the people in such villages not to harm elephants while elephants are moving in the villages. These elephants are innocent live with injustice of the world. Humans destroy everything they have including their home and put the blame to the innocent giants for attacking humans. Elephants could become very aggressive if people harm one of the elephants in their herd like the Great Elephant “Panamure” lived in Sri Lanka. Thus, if they could ever speak, they will tell the whole world, how bad they are being treated and how unfair it is..