African elephants plays a critical role in their ecosystem. They are ecosystem engineers and shape their habitat in various ways. These gentle giants in the animal kingdom are as interesting as their large size. Here are the top 9 most amazing facts about African elephants.
1. The World’s Largest Land Animal
The African elephant is the world’s largest land mammal, with males on average measuring up to 3 meters high and weighing up to 6 tonnes. Males only reach their full size at 35 to 40 years, that’s well over half their lifespan as wild elephants can live up to 60 or 70 years. At birth, elephants can weigh one hundred and twenty kilograms.
2. Their Trunks Have Mad Skills
Elephants have around one hundred and fifty thousand muscle units in their trunk. Their trunks are the most sensitive organ among mammals. Asian elephants usually pick up a peanut, shell it, blow the shell out and eat the nut. Elephants use their trunks to suck up water to drink, and as snorkels when swimming.
3. Their Tusks Are Teeth
Elephant tusks are enlarged incisor teeth. Tusks continue growing throughout their lives. Tusks help with feeding, prizing bark off trees or digging up roots, or defense when fighting. But these beautiful ivory tusks put elephants in danger because they are desired objects among humans.
4. They Have Thick Skin
An elephant’s skin is 2.5cm thick in most places. The folds and wrinkles in their skin can retain up to 10 times more water than smooth skin, which helps cool them down. They keep their skin clean and protect themselves from sunburn by taking regular dust and mud baths.
5. You Can Tell The Two Species Apart By Their Ears
There are two species of elephants: African and Asian. The ears of African elephants are much larger than Asian elephants. They have a shape like the African continent. In contrast, the ears of Asian elephants are shaped like the Indian subcontinent.
6. Elephants Are Constantly Eating
Elephants need up to one hundred and fifty kilograms of food per day; that’s around three hundred and seventy-five tins of baked beans, although half of this may leave the body undigested. They eat so much that they can spend up to three-quarters of their day eating.
7. They Communicate Through Vibrations
Elephants communicate in various ways, including sounds like trumpet calls; some sounds are too low for people to hear, body language, touch, and scent. They can also communicate through seismic signals, sounds that create vibrations in the ground, which they may detect through their bones.
8. Calves Can Stand Within 20 Minutes Of Birth
Amazingly, elephant calves can stand within 20 minutes of being born and can walk within 1 hour. After two days, they can keep up with the herd. This incredible survival technique means that herds of elephants can keep migrating to find food and water to thrive.
9. They Are In Extreme Danger Of Extinction
Around 90% of African elephants have been wiped out in the past century. Largely due to the ivory trade, leaving an estimated four hundred and fifteen thousand wild elephants alive today. As their habitat changes, fragments are lost to human settlements and agriculture.
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