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The Elephant
Elephant

African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their ears. Africans' ears are much larger and are shaped – some note – like the continent of their origin. The African is typically larger than the Asian and has a concave back.

The "Big Five" - Elephant
 

Parks Where Found

Physical Characteristics

  • They use their trunks to tear up their food and then place it in their mouth.
  • Have two fingerlike projections at the tip of their trunk.
  • Over their lives they usually have 28 teeth.
  • An elephant's skin is extremely tough around most parts of its body and measures about 2.5 centimetres.

Natural Environment

Elephants are found in savannas and low forest.

Behaviour

Elephants live in a very structured social order. The social lives of male and female elephants are very different. The females spend their entire lives in tightly knit family groups made up of mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts. These groups are led by the eldest female, or matriarch. Adult males, on the other hand, live mostly solitary lives.

The life of the adult male is very different. As he gets older, he begins to spend more time at the edge of the herd, gradually going off on his own for hours or days at a time. Eventually, days become weeks, and somewhere around the age of fourteen, the mature male, or bull, sets out from his natal group for good.

While males do live primarily solitary lives, they will occasionally form loose associations with other males. These groups are called bachelor herds. The males spend much more time than the females fighting for dominance with each other. Only the most dominant males will be permitted to breed with cycling females. The less dominant ones must wait their turn.

Diet

  • Their diet is at least 50% grasses, supplemented with leaves, bamboo, twigs, bark, roots, and small amounts of fruits, seeds and flowers.
  • Because elephants only digest 40% of what they eat, they have to make up for their digestive system's lack of efficiency in volume.
  • An adult elephant can consume 140–270 kg (300–600 lb) of food a day. 60% of that food leaves the elephant's body undigested.

Predators and Threats

  • Elephants are increasingly threatened by human intrusion and poaching.

Facts for Fun

  • Adult elephant males live mostly solitary lives.
  • Elephants communicate over long distances by producing and receiving low-frequency sound (infrasound), a sub-sonic rumbling, which can travel through the ground farther than sound travels through the air.
  • Unlike most mammals, female elephants have a single pair of mammary glands located just behind the front legs.
Herbivores

Giraffe

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