Elephant: the huge mammal!

Elephant the huge mammal!

Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammals with massive bodies, large ears, and long trunks. It is quite and gentle animal but becomes aggressive in certain condition especially in its matting season.

Elephants are discontinuously distributed in Asia and Africa. Three living species are currently recognized till now; out of which two are found in Africa (The Bush elephant and Forest elephant) while the third species (The Asian elephant) is restricted to Asia only.

1. African Bush Elephant

This species is found in Savannahs and semi-forests of Africa. It is found in 37 countries of Africa. It is the largest species approximately 13 feet in height and 11 tons in weight.

(An african bush elephant is walking on grass)

2. African Forest Elephant

Some of the western countries of Africa and the Congo have dense forests where this elephant is found. It is the smallest of elephant species and can grow up to 7 feet.

The difference between the African bush elephant and the Bush elephant is that the Bush elephant has larger ears, grey skin, and the teeth pointed upwards, while the African forest elephant has teeth directed downward, dark grey skin, and smaller ears.

(African forest elephant)

3. Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant is found in larger numbers in the countries around the equator where the temperature is very high and these areas receive high rainfall all the year round. Due to heavy rainfall dense forests grow which is favorite habitat of the Asian elephant. It is found in Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

(Asian elephants)

The Asian elephant is 9 feet tall and can weigh up to four tons. There are many differences between the Asian and the African elephant which are given below:

1. The back of the Asian elephant is curved outwards while that of the African elephant is curved inwards.

2. African elephants have rounded heads, while that African is a twin-domed head.

3. The Asian elephant’s trunk and ears often lose color pigment, which causes pink dots to appear like humans with psoriasis.

4. The trunk of the African elephant has 2 finger-like projections while the Asian has only one such projection.

5. The forefeet of the Asian elephants have five toes and hind has four, while African Elephants have five toes in forefeet and three in their hind feet.

(Asian elephant is taking a mud bath)

Physical Description

1. Tusks of the elephant

The elephant has two long teeth which are actually the modified incisors. The tusks are used to lift heavy weights, for digging holes, transporting materials and also use for defense purposes. There are separate teeth in the mouth for eating purposes. So, in total 26 teeth are present in elephants along with these two tusks.

• The tusks are shorter in Asian species than in African ones.

• The African males have longer tusks than African females.

2. The trunk of an elephant

The elephant trunk is a powerful and muscular organ of the body. It has a greater number of muscles approximately forty thousand in number. It is used for lifting heavy loads and some other purposes like bathing, defense, and trumpeting while finger-like projections on trunk are used to feel and pick small things as small as straws.

3. An elephant’s skin

It would have been impossible for an elephant to survive without wrinkles.The elephant’s wrinkled skin traps moisture in the hollows for a longer period, thus keeping the elephant cooler for longer.

4. An elephant’s ears

The size of the ears depends on the temperature of the region. The hotter the region, the larger the elephant’s ears. The ear of elephant has larger number of blood vessels which are used to dissipate heat by the process of vasodilation.  It keeps the body of the elephant cool. In times of danger, the elephant moves its ear up so it can look bigger than its actual size.

(Elephant ears keep their body temperature in shape)

5. An elephant’s feet

The elephant walks on its flat feet and can sleep standing up. Its flat feet and its heavy weight make long paths in the forests and meadows that other animals use for transportation.

Role of an elephant in environment

It consumes about 150 kg (330 lbs) of grass, leaves, fruits, etc. in a day and throws 60% of it in the form of natural manure in its dung. The elephant’s stomach cannot digest the seeds which become part of the soil. Due to this, new trees, shrubs and plants often grow from these seeds. The elephant’s dung is also used to make paper. One such paper industry has been setup in India.

(a notebook made out of elephant dung in Srilanka)

Social system in elephants

The social structure of elephants is complex. Adult elephants form matriarchal (female-led) societies while adult males like to live alone. After the death of the Matriarch, the elder takes charge of society. All the females in the group take care of the young ones. The male young members of the society leave the group upon reaching adulthood.

Elephant’s calf

An elephant baby is known as a calf. In the first hours after birth, the calf can stand on his feet and can walk. At birth, it weighs about 150 kg (330lbs)

( a newly born baby calf)

Some facts about an elephant

• This animal once used by the kings and maharajas for riding and fighting can be extremely dangerous. During matting days it becomes highly aggressive due to a high level of testosterone (60 times higher than normal), this condition is known as musth.

• An elephant has a tiny but visible perforation in the skin at the temporal gland from which a substance known as Temporin is secreted when the male elephant is in musth.

• Elephants can become very aggressive at this time, can attack other elephants and even humans and kill them. Every year 500 people are killed by elephants in the world.

(elephant in musth)

How does an elephant attack?

Elephants attacks and produces injuries by stomping, trampling, stomping, squeezing, tossing in the air, or may crush targeting the head and chest commonly.

How to survive an elephant’s attack?

Try to run as fast as you can in a zigzag manner.

Conversation status

Elephants have been killed for the beauty of their tusks and flesh, which has endangered all their species.

Is the elephant afraid of rats?

Actually it is not afraid, but gets confused. Any living creature that walks at his feet frightens him and he stays away from it. However, bees can bite on its delicate parts, so it runs away as soon as he finds them.

(Elaphants are used for transportation and rides in India)

The Elephant’s memory

An elephant is known to have a very sharp memory. It’s because they have a highly developed hippocampus as compared to humans. Their strong memory helps them to remember their feeding places and also remember the death places of their friends and family.

Life span

It takes forty years for an elephant to become an adult while its average life is 60 to 70 years

(a group of elephants is called a herd)

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