Elephant

Loxodonta Africana

elephant photo

The African elephant is the largest land mammal on Earth and perhaps one of the most intelligent. The trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like structures at its tip that allow the animal to perform both delicate and powerful movements. Its remarkable tusks first appear when the animal is two years of age and continue to grow throughout life. Elephants use tusks for peeling bark off trees, digging for roots, herding young, drilling for water and sometimes as a weapon.

Size

Males reach a length of 18 to 21 feet and weigh up to 13,200 pounds. Females are about two feet shorter and weigh half as much.

Population

400,000 to 600,000 (down from perhaps 10 million early in this century).

Lifespan

Elephants can live 50 to 60 years.

Range

Throughout Africa south of the Sahara desert.

Habitat

Elephants are capable of surviving in nearly any habitat that has adequate quantities of food and water.

Food

Elephants spend about 16 hours a day eating. Their diet is varied and includes grass, leaves, twigs, bark and fruit.

Behavior

Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight social units. A family is led by an older matriarch and typically includes three or four of her offspring and their young. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12 and 15 and may lead solitary adult lives.

Offsrping

Females carry their young for almost two years. At birth, the calf weighs about 250 pounds. A cow may give birth every three to four years.