African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth.African elephants are divided into two subspecies (savannah and forest), while the Asian elephant is divided into four subspecies (Sri Lankan, Indian, Sumatran and Borneo). Asian elephants have been very important to Asian culture for thousands of years – they have been domesticated and are used for religious festivals, transportation and to move heavy objects.
Weighing up to 6000 kg (6.6 tons) and measuring up to 3.3 m (10 ft.) at the shoulder.It is characterized by its highly dexterous trunk, long curved tusks, and massive ears.An adult elephant’s brain weighs ten pounds.
An elephant’s trunk has about 150,000 muscles and no bones: these features make the trunk very flexible.Elephants can hold 4 gallons or more of water in their trunks at one time.Besides using its trunk to smell, elephants use it to transport food and water to their mouths.Elephants (like parrots and dolphins) are capable of mimicry.
The elephant’s foot is a spongy pad with four or five toes and toenails. The pad acts like a cushion with each step, absorbing the impact and taking some strain off the leg.
The extinct wooly mammoth had loads of hair, suiting him to a cold environment, but African and Asian elephants have only sparse brown hair here and there on their bodies, with concentrated tufts on places like the mouth and tail.
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 11 pounds and measures about 12 inches long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair shifts forward, and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth six times.
At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are an estimated 450,000 - 700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 - 40,000 wild Asian elephants.
Elephants are voracious feeders and can spend up to 16 - 18 hours a day consuming grass, tender shoots and bark from trees.
An adult elephant can drink up to 200 liters of water in a single session.
Elephants communicate a lot through touch, taste, and smell. A mother may bat her calf with her tail to make sure he is still following behind her, or she may turn and shove him as discipline. Two elephants who meet will “greet” with trunks outstretched, sniffing for clues about the other. Incidentally, some scientists say that excited behavior during greetings may suggest that elephants remember one another, even after being separated for many years.
Elephants live 60-70 years. The older the elephant becomes, the less it lies down since it becomes more difficult for the elephant to get up.An elephant’s gestation period is 22 months (longest of any land animals), and nursing period is about 5 years.