African elephants

African Elephant - The African elephant is one of the most remarkable mammals on the planet. They have social structures similar to that of humans, can live up to 60 years, eat 16 hours of every day, and weigh up to 3 tons. Even with these unusual habits, and enchanting nature, the African elephant has decreased in population by at least one million since the 1970’s. With care and education on this gentle giant, perhaps the African elephant may yet thrive and grow, so let us look into these beautiful creations.

Their physiology is unlike any other animal. Their long trunks, an extension of the nose and upper lip, serve as “hands”, with two finger like tongs on each end. When standing, an African elephant can have a reach 11 feet higher then that of a giraffe.

As you might expect, these giant animals need to consume large quantities of food to maintain their huge size. Traveling in packs, African elephants seek grazing grounds for the majority of their lives. They spend 16 hours per day eating and drinking. They can drink up to 60 gallons of water per day, and can go without it for up to a week.

The social structures of the African elephant are familiar to us humans. Intricate greeting systems, tightly knit family groups, and a pleasure-seeking life all show signs of intellect and emotion. Female elephants, called cows, mate with male elephants, bulls, to produce offspring that stay with the family for the entirety of their youth. The female mates as often as every three years and pregnancies last two years. Males travel with the herd until age 12, at which time they leave to lead mostly solitary lives. Females either stay with their herd for their entire lives, or leave to join other herds of females.

When African Elephants intend to join other herds, intricate greetings will take place. Because their eye sight is poor, these animals communicate with their trunks. An approaching elephant may entwine her trunk with another female, insert the trunk tip into the other’s mouth, or even “shake trunks” as though shaking hands. Tusk touching can also be a sign of affection.

These beautiful ivory tusks have earned the elephant the unending pursuit of poachers. Ivory has long been desired for things of human adornment, but the market for them has been limited. Greater demand for their tusks seems to have started in the early 1900’s, reaching its highest pitch in the 1970’s. Little consideration was given to the conservation of these animals and no regret for the carnage the African Elephant suffered. Since 1900, the elephant population that dropped from one million to ten thousand, joining the list of endangered species.

Recently, African governments have taken steps to restore the population by passing anti-poaching. If treated with respect, these human-loving animals might yet survive and remain to awe our children for generations to come.

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