How many species of elephant exist?
There are two ‘families’ of elephants: the African family, and the Asian family, each with their own subspecies:
Where do elephants live?
Elephants live in Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia. African elephants don’t stay within one country as a migratory species, but instead travel huge distances across 37 different African countries known as range states.
How many elephants are left in the wild?
As few as 450,000 elephants remain in the wild today across Africa and Asia. African elephant populations are estimated at 415,000 while Asian elephants are estimated at around 40,000-45,000 – just 10% of African elephant populations.
What is an elephant’s habitat?
Elephants live in savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes.
How do elephants behave?
Elephant live in tightly-bonded female-led herds. This is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds usually consist of 8-100 individuals, depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd. Males, known as bulls, leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily in a smaller herd with other young bulls.
Elephants are extremely intelligent animals with incredible memories which the matriarch leaders rely on for survival during dry seasons, when they need to guide their herds for enormous distances to watering holes that they remember from the past. Elephants have also been recorded displaying clear signs of grief, joy, anger and playfulness.
Elephants can communicate over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that can travel over the ground faster than sound through air. Other elephants receive the messages through the sensitive skin on their feet and trunks, and it’s believed that this is how potential mates and social groups communicate.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants eat grasses, leaves, bamboo, bark and roots. Elephants are also known to eat crops like banana and sugarcane which are grown by farmers often resulting in crop raids, a cause of human-elephant conflict. Adult elephants eat an average 180kg of food per day.
How much do elephants weigh?
An adult African savannah elephant can weigh up to 6,000 kg (13,200 lbs), while an African forest elephant usually only weighs up to 2,700 kg (around 6,000 lbs). Asian elephants can weigh up to 5,400 kg (around 12,000 lbs)
How long do elephants live?
African elephants can live up to 60 – 70 years old, while Asian elephants live to around 50 years old.
What is the difference between African and Asian elephants?
There are three easy-to-spot differences between Asian and African elephants: head shape, ear size and tusks.
Head shape: African elephants have rounded heads and Asian elephants have twin-domed heads
Ear size: African elephants have huge ears, and Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears
Tusks: African male and female elephants grow tusks, whereas Asian elephants only grow tusks if they are male. It’s important to note that not all elephants can grow tusks, regardless if they are African or Asian. There are ongoing scientific and biological studies into the rise of ‘tuskless’ elephants, potentially resulting from their adaptation to poaching.
Why do people buy ivory?
Across the world, ivory (also known as “white gold”) is bought as a way to prove wealth and social status and is used in luxury or ornamental items. Following a survey by National Geographic Society and GlobeScan, it was noted that the belief that ivory is the perfect gift is fuelled by the perception that it is “rare, precious, pure, beautiful, exotic, and importantly, that it confers status to not only the receiver but the giver of the gift.”
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