One of the noblest creatures among all land mammals, elephants are truly a species worth admiring. The elephant is the world’s largest land animal ever to exist. The regions of Africa and certain parts of India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia see a large scattered population of these fascinating creatures.
To co-exist with this species, we must know and understand some important facts about Elephants. Here are 13 fun facts about elephants.
There are currently only 3 elephant species that are known involving the-
1. The African Elephant and The Asian Elephant
The African elephant includes forest elephants and bush or savannah elephants. The third specie is the Asian elephant.
The African bush elephant is the largest of the species and has larger than its Asian counterpart. One could describe the ears of the African bush species as being shaped just like the continent they live in, although the Asian elephant has ears that are much smaller and round. The African forest elephant has more rounded ears than the African savannah elephant.
The elephants are distantly related to the now extinct mammoths. However, the elephant’s closest living relative is called the hyrax, which in comparison to elephants, is very tiny.
This is a herbivorous mammal and resembles a guinea pig. It can be safe to say that the elephant species is uniquely related to a variety of species in the animal kingdom.
2. Elephants Love to Eat
Elephants are constantly munching on grass, herbs, shrubs, and fruits. Being huge mammals, they need up to 150 kilograms of food every day. These herbivores could spend more than half of their day eating; that’s a humongous appetite!! They keep roaming around gathering food for sustenance and thus require a lot of nutrition.
Elephants enjoy eating tree bark as it helps their digestion and includes calcium. To consume salt and minerals, elephants dig up the soil and place its pieces in their mouth.
An elephant can drink more than 200 liters of water in a day! Talk about staying hydrated! Due to this, they also tend to inhabit areas that have an abundance of water sources.
In consequence, the African bush elephant weighs around an average of 11,000 kilograms! And the Asian elephants weigh around 7,000 kilograms!
3. Elephants Are Pregnant for Over 22 Months
Elephants have the longest gestation period than any other mammals. African elephants are pregnant for an average of 22 months, and Asian elephants are usually pregnant for 18 to 22 months.
So why do female elephants carry their babies for such a long time? Elephants are not only huge creatures but also intellectuals, so during this time period, and it is not only their bodies that are developing but also their brains and their intellect.
Elephants can only birth one baby at a time. Baby elephants are usually 200-300 pounds when they are born. They are born blind. However, they can walk on their feet very quickly, although they might walk a little bit wobbly.
The baby elephants rely on their mothers for at least 16 years, learn to use their trunks, and survive in the wild. Male elephants tend to live away from their groups or tend to join other males. Females live within their groups, and only males show this behavior.
An adorable fact about the baby elephant is that they tend to suck on their trunks just like human babies suck on their thumbs.
4. Elephants Communicate with Their Feet
Elephants can easily pick up lower-pitched frequencies beyond the human ear. Their nerve endings are sensitive enough to allow them to pick up warnings or signals sent to them by other elephants. They can converse with other elephants using vibrations on the ground.
The soft pads of their feet also help with this function. Their trunks also come in use to detect vibrations felt in the earth. They tend to send warnings about predators to each other by stomping on the ground; these are discernable even if they are miles away from each other.
Elephants communicate through various sounds such as trumpets, barks, cries, roars, and squeals. Like cats, they also have their own way of purring to communicate.
5. Their Trunk Is Their Most Important Asset
The elephant’s trunk is one of its most useful organs. Now, the African elephant has a different structure from the Asian elephant. African elephants tend to have two protruding fingers at the tip of their trunks; their Asian cousins only have one.
An elephant trunk alone has around 150,000 muscles; that is al0t! Their trunks have versatile uses and are used to breathe, drink water, collect food, graze and even wrestle with their own. An elephant’s trunk can store water because of its large nostrils and respiratory system.
Elephants do not drink water with their trunks; it is like a storage unit to hold water and a tool to put water into their mouths. Their trunks are also useful while swimming to help them breathe.
The trunk is used to uproot the biggest trees and pick up the smallest items. Asian elephants can use their trunks more effectively and have better muscle coordination. If wild elephants lost their trunks, it would be very difficult for them to keep on surviving.
6. Elephants Are Empathetic Beings
A recent video of a man swimming in the water and being saved by a baby elephant who thinks he is drowning is going viral on the internet. The man is the elephant’s trainer and rescuer. This goes to show the empathy that their hearts hold. They tend to show feelings similar to compassion and kindness.
Elephants have been observed to pay respects to their dead and grieve and mourn for them. They have been kept covering the bones of their dead with dry vegetation. They also pay respects to the dead of the other species and touch dead bones with their trunks.
Female elephants will try to protect their children from predators or any other animals that may try to disturb or harm them. Elephant families are a pretty common phenomenon in the wild. Elephant behavior has various complex facets.
When elephants have been through a tragedy, they show symptoms relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which may also affect their intelligence.
7. Elephants Are Adaptable to Humans
Over time we have seen that humans can connect with and tame elephants. One of the reasons behind this is how both man and the elephant take time to mature and have complex relationships with those in their social groups. This similarity and many others are what connect these two distinct species. Elephants need to be treated to show the same to the human race.
Although many humans have helped conserve this species, many have caused them much harm because of their selfishness. Nevertheless, the elephant has come to form a connection with a man as it is intelligent enough to communicate with him uniquely, just like dolphins and dogs.
8. Elephant Tusks Are Just Massive Teeth
An elephant has 26 teeth, including the two most prominent ones, the protruding tusks. Both male and female elephants have tusks, except for the Asian female, whose tusks might be very small. Male Asian Elephants have tusks that are slimmer and lighter compared to the tusks of African elephants. Tusks are used to dig the soil for water and minerals, clear paths through the forests, and mainly to attack and defend while fighting.
Elephants tend to be either left-tusked or right-tusked. Usually, the dominant tusk is shorter than the other tusk as it is used much more.
Elephants target poachers because of their tusks are used for the ivory trade; therefore, the species has been endangered daily.
9. Elephants Poop a Lot
Elephants poop once every two hours because of inefficient digestion and a large diet. Elephants can poop up to 10 times a day. However, their poops do not smell because of their clean and green diets.
Elephant poop has innumerable uses apart from being a good soil fertilizer. It can also be used as a mosquito repellent and pain relief medicine. Their poop has also been used to create biodegradable paper. Elephant dung is also used to make high-grade coffee.
10. They Cannot Hop, Skip or Jump
They are the only mammals that cannot jump. The simple reason for their inability to jump is that their feet are not created for that purpose. Their bones are shaped downward, which does not help support them to leap. Even running, they must constantly keep at least one foot on the ground.
Elephants do not need to jump. Unlike other animals, elephants can protect themselves from other harmful animals by staying in their social groups and because of their size.
11. Elephants Prioritize Taking Care of Their Skin
Elephants do not have sweat glands and must keep their skin covered in water and mud to keep cool. The cracks and wrinkles on their skin help keep their body temperature in check by retaining moisture that would have been difficult to retain on a flatter skin surface. They also do this to keep insects and parasites away and to protect their skin. An elephant’s skin needs constant mud baths to keep them healthy.
Elephant skin poaching is a prevalent issue and must be prevented. They cover themselves in hay or dirt to protect themselves from the sun. So the next time you see an elephant rolling around in their dirt, know that they’re just following their typical skincare routine.
12. Elephants Fear Bees
You heard that right, and these magnificent creatures fear one of the tiniest insects in the world. The buzzing of the bees can cause elephants to become anxious. These gentle giants have thick skins, around 2.5 cm wide, making it difficult for the bees to penetrate them with their sting, but a swarm of bees could attack the weaker points of this animal, such as the eyes, mouth, and trunk.
African bees are much more aggressive than the average bee and can hurt their victims. Asian elephants are less afraid of bees in contrast to African elephants.
Farmers have been encouraged to cultivate beehives around their farming establishments which deter elephants and prevent poaching. Conservationists have used this to the advantage of both man and animal. An already endangered species, elephants are thus protected, and conflict is kept at bay.
13. Elephants Are Incredibly Smart
Well, it is true. An elephant’s brain is highly developed and large(mainly the temporal lobe).
This helps them to hold memories of other elephants, humans they have come in contact with, and even locations or places where they have been able to fend for themselves. It is this ability to remember that helps them to teach their descendants the ways of survival in the wild.
The elephant is also able to decipher emotions through language, whether they are positive or negative. When it comes to the stereotype that Asians are good at math, it can prove to be true for the elephant. Asian elephants have a basic understanding of math, according to several researches undertaken by scientists, in contrast to their African counterparts.
Humans have been observed to understand and obey up to 60 elephants tamed by humans. Elephants also tend to understand human body language, such as human pointing.
Elephants can make use of tools to carry out different activities. They might use sticks to swat away insects and flies and also use them as back scratchers. They are also known to engage in problem-solving and try to solve complex problems.
Elephants have been able to mimic human language. An Asian elephant could speak 5 words in Korean by imitating the humans he was listening to.
The Importance of Elephant Conservation
The past century has seen the endangering of these gentle giants. The life expectancy of the African elephant is 70 years, and the Asian elephant is 48 years, but this has all changed because of the excessive hunting and poaching of these helpless creatures.
The elephant population has seen a major decrease. The Asian elephant population has decreased to a saddening 40,000-50,000. The African elephant populations range around 450,000 because of a slight decrease in poaching. Both African forest elephants and African bush elephants can be called endangered species.
The Indian elephant, found in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka, is endangered because of fragmentation, as many live in captivity. This is also the case with the Sumatran elephant native to Indonesia. Indian elephants are found in larger numbers as compared to Sumatran elephants.
Due to pollution and the captivity of these animals, elephant habitats have deteriorated. As humans, we must restore and maintain their habits for their survival. Dense forests must be maintained specially to avoid habitat loss. Establishing a national park is the way to go to protect this specie. National parks such as the Kruger National park are one such reserve that provides a habitat for all mammals, including elephants.
Green global travel is an ecotourism brand promoting wildlife conservation and thus promoting elephant conservation. This helps people understand the value of these fascinating creatures.
Humans have formed intimate connections with these animals but also conflicts with them. The increase in human settlements and agricultural land has caused them much harm. This human-elephant conflict can be avoided if we make space for these creatures and if we treat them with respect.
But, it is our duty to protect these amazing animals from the illegal wildlife trade; we can only do this with a joint effort. Elephants are magnificent noble creatures with a right to life like any other animal; we must make this right accessible to them.