African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Fun Fact: The elephant symbolizes strength, honor, stability, and patience.
Body and Skeletal Structure:
Most grown African elephants are typically around 9 to 13 ft (2.7-3.9 m) in height. Length-wise, they’re usually between 18 to 25 ft (5.5-7.6 m). Their tails are normally about 4 ft (1.2 m) long. As for their weight, they range from being 6,614 to 13,228 lbs (3,000-6,000 kg). The males are normally significantly larger and heavier than the females, and they tend to have longer and heavier tusks as well. Females’ tusks typically weigh about 40 lbs (18.1 kg) each, while the males’ weigh between 110-175 lb (49.9-79.4 kg) each.
Fun Fact: The elephant is the largest land mammal in the world.
Fun Fact: An elephant’s skull takes up 25% of its total body weight.
The African bush elephant’s thick skin is generally a dull brownish-grey with a sparse scattering of black, bristly hairs. It has wrinkly skin that is adapted to keeping the elephant’s body cool.
This African elephant is a herbivore, meaning it eats plants. They usually eat grass, leaves, fruits, roots, and bark.
Fun Fact: They need to eat about 350 lbs (158.8 kg) of vegetation and can drink up to 50 gallons (189.3 liters) of water daily.
Most elephants can live to be around 60 to 70 years of age.
Mating Season: No specific season (However, the reproductive rate is higher during rainy seasons.)
Gestation Period: About 20-24 months
Fun Fact: This is the longest gestation period among animals.
Litter Size: Only 1 calf
Communication and Behavior:
Related African elephant females and their young live in herds, typically of about 10 individuals, that are managed by the eldest female called the matriarch. Meanwhile, males lead a solitary life once they ht puberty, only approaching herds during the “mating season.” However, both are very active and nomadic, meaning that they are constantly on the move in search of food. The females moving about while in a herd have greater protection both from predators and from the elements than the males do. These elephants use their flexible trunk to not only gather & handle food and collect water, but use both their trunk and tusks to defend themselves from predators and, for males, to fight with other males during the “mating season.” African bush elephants are also considered to be highly intelligent and emotional animals. They display instances of giving and receiving love, caring deeply for the young, and grieving for dead relatives. The social bonds between these elephants are very strong, and if faced with danger, a herd will form a protective circle around the young calves, with the adults facing outwards and the matriarch putting on a threatening stance, and perhaps even charging the intruder. African elephants are known to care for their wounded and also show recognition of, and interest in, other elephant bones.
The African bush elephant communicates with other elephants in a variety of ways. For example, changes in the position & posture of the tail, head, ears, and/or trunk convey visual signals and messages. Meanwhile, smell plays a role in maintaining social contact within the herd, in assessing the health or sexual condition of another elephant, and in detecting threats. Touch is also important, because an elephant will use its trunk in greetings and other such things. However, vocalizations are used more often between individuals. The distinctive, trumpeting call of the elephant is mainly used in excitement or surprise, during an attack, or when playing around. To issue warnings and/or to maintain contact between individuals, an elephant usually growls. Other sounds made by the African elephant range from high-pitched squeaks to deep rumbles, and two-thirds of the calls are uttered at a frequency below the range of human hearing. These low-frequency sounds allow the African elephant to communicate over large distances of at least 5 miles (8 km) away. During a female’s short period, which lasts only 2 to 4 days, the female will utter a series of powerful, low-pitched calls to attract breeding males that may be several kilometers away.
Habitat and Range:
African elephants occupy varies types of habits in Africa. They can be found to dwell among deserts, savannas, forests, river valleys and marshes.
These elephants, now vulnerable, are continually threatened by habitat loss and poachers that are after their ivory tusks and meat. In fact, about 25,000 elephants are being lost each year. (Visit nature.org/elephants to learn how you can help.)