Elephants are so fascinating!Recently I watched a BBC documentary on Elephants called, "The Secret Life of Elephants." I am a huge fan of the Elephant species and after watching this documentary, I have fallen even more in love with them. There is very little information people actually know about this magnificent creature and so I have decided to share the knowledge I have gained about the Elephant species.
There are two main species of Elephants; they are known as the African Elephants and the Asian Elephants. The two species of Elephants are very similar. They are both very large, grey, four-legged herbivores and both have tusks made of ivory. The difference is in their ears and trunks. Asian Elephant's ears are significantly smaller than African Elephants and also, Asian Elephant's have one "finger" on the tip of their trunk, while African Elephant's have two "fingers." Elephants are herbivores, which means they do not consume any type of meat. They eat things such as leaves, grass, fruits, vegetables, and bark.
An adult male Elephant is known as a Bull Elephant, while an adult female is known as a Cow. Their offspring, or the baby Elephant, is called a calf. It is most common for only one Elephant to be born per litter and it takes two years for an Elephant to incubate inside it's mother. A group of Elephants is called a herd and they usually travel in families. Bull Elephants may travel together or separately, while Adult Female Elephants travel with their offspring and other related female Elephants. When male Elephants get old enough, they will leave their family to join the other Bull Elephants.
So you thought that large ears meant great hearing? Well, you were right, an Elephant's ears have an amazing range of hearing that are far better than a humans. An Elephant's ears are used to aid in ventilation and the softest part of their body is behind their ears, which is called the Knuckle. The Elephant's foot is a spongy pad with four or five toes on each foot. The feet act like a cushion with each step, helping take some of the strain off of each leg. An Elephant's skin is very sensitive, and so, Elephants take many steps to keep cool by rolling around in mud and using their trunks to fling sand on themselves.
An Elephant's tusks continue to grow through their sixty years, or more, life span. They can be used for digging, sparring, protection, fighting, and of course, as a trunk rest. An Elephant's trunk has more than one hundred thousand muscles. It can be used to pick up leaves, or pull off bark, and pick up small objects. Their trunks can hold up to a gallon of water to use for drinking or to squirt onto their backs.
About once a year, males enter a state of sexual excitement called Musth, and they may fight one another for rights to a female. During this time, Bull Elephants can become violent and uncontrollable, and glands on their cheeks will begin to secrete a sticky liquid, that will sometimes run down their face. While in Musth, they send out low-frequency calls to other females, and if one responds in the distance they will follow her. Female Elephants prefer to mate with older males and so younger, male Elephants usually do not produce offspring until they are much older. An Elephant calf drinks milk from it's mother for four to six years, which is when the mother elephant will give birth again. Despite the mother's very tender care and life-risking protection, very few calves make it to adulthood.
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. They also can make more than twenty-five various vocalizations. Trumpets, screams, rumbles, and grunts all send a message, depending on how they are made.
This isn't even the beginning of the information that is out there about Elephants! They are just, so, fascinating and there is so much for people to learn! I'll bet you didn't even know that Elephants have feelings, just like humans do. No, most animals do not have feelings. Elephants actually show care and affection for their families, for their entire lives, while many other species of animals separate from their offspring after only a year or two. It is important to know that Elephants are currently an endangered species and there are many poachers out there, killing Elephants to obtain their ivory tusks. Save the Elephants!