The Red List | African Elephant

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The total population of African Elephants were estimated as 700,000 in 1970, which dwindled down to just 20,000 in 2006.

The Elephant's Trunk is a very sensitive organ with over 100,000 muscle units.

The largest African Elephant on record, was shot in Angola in 1955. It was a bull weighing 12,274 kg (27,060 lb) and standing 4.2 metres (13.8 ft) high.

At birth, elephants already weigh some 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and stand about 3 feet (1 meter) tall.

Elephants show emotions like humans. They cry, play, have incredible memories, and laugh!

Skin of elephant is about 2.5 cm thick

The African elephants use their ears to aid in ventilation in maintaining temperature.

The African Elephants spend nearly 16 hours a day in eating, however only 40% of the ingested food gets digested. They drink about 30-50 gallons of water daily.

Some African Bush Elephants will attack and kill rhinoceroses. This behavior, when it occurs, is mostly observed with younger adult male elephants who have come into musth prematurely.

A recent discovery about Elephants is that playback of the recorded sounds of angry honey bees is remarkably effective at prompting elephants to flee an area. This helps safely driving groups of elephants away from humans.

The trunk of an elephant can hold 8.5 litres of water. On an average, it urinates up to 10 times a day, and each time it urinates more than 10 litres. Each elephant dung weighs up to 2.5 kg on an average. A jumbo poops close to 20 times in a day.

Elephant's pulse rate is around 25-30 per minute when the tusker is standing, and around 98 when it lies down.

It is bigger in size than its Asian counterpart and also distinguished by larger ears and tusks, a sloping forehead, and two “fingers” at the tip of its trunk, compared to only one in the Asian species.

African Elephants can’t easily domesticated as Asian Elephants.

Out of six African Elephants species known to humans, four are extinct. The existing two species were believed to be the same species until recently when a genetic study confirmed that the African Bush Elephant and the African Forest Elephant are distinct species (2010). But various international organizations like UNEP, IUCN, etc still consider both the species as the same species but different forms(just synonyms).

African Elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal on Earth. It inhabits the Savannah, brush, forest, river valleys, and semi-desert regions of Africa, ranging from sub-Saharan region to the rain forests of central and West Africa.

Where is it found?

The African Elephants are found range throughout sub-Saharan Africa and the rain forests of central and West Africa. The continent’s northernmost elephants are found in Mali’s Sahel desert. The small, nomadic herd of Mali elephants migrates in a circular route through the desert in search of water.
Poaching is the biggest concern for the elephants in Africa. Huge number of elephants are killed every year by poachers for Ivory and other elephant parts. Due to economical and political issues, the conservation of the elephants vary from country to country. Human encroachment into or adjacent to natural areas have shrink-ed the habitat of this largest mammal. In 1990 an international ban was imposed on Elephant Ivory. The poaching reduced after that. It is estimated that the total population of African Elephants reduced from 1.3 million to only 0.6 million due to poaching and hunting. The current population of African Elephant is stated from 500,000 to 700,000.

How does it live?

Elephants are herbivorous. Their diet varies according to their habitat; elephants living in forests, partial deserts, and grasslands all eat different proportions of herbs and tree or shrubbery leaves. Elephants inhabiting the shores of Lake Kariba have been recorded eating underwater plant life too. An adult elephant can consume up to 200 kilograms of food in a single day.
African Elephant lives up to around 70 years, with females mostly fertile between 25 and 45. Males need to reach 20 years of age in order to successfully compete for mating. Young elephants wean after 6 to 18 months, although they may continue nursing for over 6 years. Male elephants leave their natal group at puberty and tend to form much more fluid alliances with other males. Usually, a single calf is born every 2.5-9 years , after a gestation period of 22 months. But there are some examples of twins too.

How does it look?

There are two recognized subspecies of African Elephant. The Savanna (or bush) elephant (Loxodonta africana africana), and the Forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis). Savanna elephants are larger than forest elephants, and their tusks curve outwards. In addition to being smaller, forest elephants are darker and their tusks are straighter and downward pointing. There are also differences in the size and shape of the skull and skeleton between the 2 subspecies. The elephants most prominent body part is the trunk. It is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, etc. Males have large tusks that they use to battle with one another. The African Elephants are distinguished with Asian Elephants by the larger ears.

The male Elephants are bigger in size than females. A full grown male African Bush Elephant can reach almost 4 meters (13 ft) in height while African Forest Elephant hardly exceed 2.5 meters (8 ft) in height. The Bush Elephant can weigh upto 9,000 Kg (20,000 lb).With regard to the number of toenails: the African Bush Elephant normally has 4 toenails on the frontfoot and 3 on the hindfoot, the African Forest Elephant normally has 5 toenails on the frontfoot and 4 on the hindfoot.

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