Hey guys, today I wanted to change things up a bit and talk about something that isn’t really health related, and share some info on one of my very favorite animals – the African Elephant!
Whether you already consider yourself an elephant expert or you simply wish to expand your knowledge on humongous, super cool African animals, hopefully you will get something of value out of this post. Obviously there is a TON more information about these amazing creatures that I wasn’t able to get to in a blog post, but I’ve attempted to touch on some of the most important facts you may want to know.
Okay, let’s get into today’s discussion of these gorgeous, majestic, one-of-a-kind elephants…
A Brief Background
While at present the African elephant is considered to be a”vulnerable” species, it can still be seen freely roaming across Africa’s rough terrain today. However, it remains endangered due to the prevalence of poaching in the area where it roams. Another reason why the population of the African elephant is shrinking is because its natural habitat is slowly being encroached upon and as a result, reduced.
While “African elephant” is its common name, its scientific name is actually Loxodonta africana spp. At present, the estimated population of African elephants ranges from 470,000 to 690,000.
The status of different elephant populations in Africa varies. Some populations are now considered “secure”, while others continue to remain endangered. Most African elephants are located in Southern Africa. Here, their population continues to grow and expand.
Currently, a certain number of elephant populations have been confined to areas that have a high level of protection. Nevertheless, African elephants continue to be threatened as their meat and ivory are continually hunted by illegal poachers. Conflicts between humans and African elephants are also quite common. Finally, as touched on earlier, the change and loss of their natural habitat is also one cause of their present endangerment.
Even with the presence of range states, the fact of the matter is that most of these aren’t adequately equipped. Thus, they often fall short when it comes to managing and protecting the herds in their jurisdiction. It is extremely possible that without a heightened level of conservation efforts, African elephants will become extinct in certain African areas in half a century.
There is no larger walking animal in the world than the African elephant. It uses its trunk for communicating with other elephants and it can be likened to a human hand in that its other function is to handle objects around it such as food. While its counterpart the Asian elephant has one extension at the end of its trunk, the African elephant has two extensions.
With regard to tusks, both male and female African elephants have them. They never stop growing throughout an elephant’s lifetime. Tusks serve multiple purposes in an elephant’s daily routine (e.g. to mark, dig, feed, etc.).
One unique characteristic of African elephants is their huge ears. They are impossible not to notice and believe it or not, they actually serve a specific purpose. Whenever the African elephant’s temperature gets too high, excess heat is able to escape through its ears.
The African Elephant has two subspecies. These include the Savanna/bush elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) and the forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis). Size-wise, Savanna elephants are superior to forest elephants. On the other hand, the tusks of forest elephants are unique in that their tusks are curved inwards. They are also straighter as compared to the tusks of Savanna elephants. Other differences between Savanna and forest elephants include the skeleton, as well as skull shape and size.
African elephants are brownish gray in color and can grow up to 6 to 7.5m long. They also have a shoulder height of 3.3m. On the other hand, they can weigh up to 6 lbs.
Life Cycle & Mating
African elephants can live up to 70 years. A female is usually fertile from the ages of 25 to 45 years old. On the other hand, male African elephants need to be at least 20 years old in order to mate successfully. And here’s a crazy fact for you… African elephants have “prehensile penises“… That means they can use their penises to swat flies, for support, and even I suppose to pick up food – pretty amazing!
African elephants subsist on leaves, branches, grass, bark and fruit. In other words, they are herbivorous creatures. which I think you will agree is absolutely adorable!