This is the migration pattern of elephants.

Elephants and migration

When you think about migration, what animals come to mind? Birds or butterflies? Well, how about elephants. These giant land mammals are one of the many animals that migrate every year. 

African elephant research teams have found that migrating elephants help keep their habitats healthy. How exactly? Our team shares down below some information about elephants and their migration patterns. 

Migration and animals

Migration is a term used to describe the seasonal movement of animals from one region to another. Many animals migrate to find food, water, mate and improve their living conditions. 

It is important to note that the term “migration” is different from the term “emigration,” which means to relocate to a more permanent home. 

All kinds of animals, like mammals and amphibians, migrate each year. They complete their journey either on land, water or air. Here is a list of some animals that migrate

  • Sea turtles

  • Baleen whales 

  • Wildebeest 

  • Birds 

  • Elephants 

Why do elephants migrate?

Elephants are the world’s largest land mammal and also one of the many migrating land mammals. The African forest elephants, African Savanna elephants and Asian elephants all migrate due to seasonal changes to find food and water

The African Savannas, grasslands and forests go through dry seasons. During this time, the watering holes and lakes can dry up. Having access to water is very crucial for elephants. They need large amounts of water. In a day, they can drink 18 to 26 gallons of water

Aside from drinking water, they also use water to stay cool. Elephants do not sweat. They bathe in water and mud to regulate their body temperatures. The mud that they jump in acts as sunscreen to protect them from harmful UV rays. 

The elephant migration patterns

For African elephants, they start their migration at the beginning of the dry season that takes place between June and November. During this time, elephants take their herds closer to rivers and water sources. Some of the common rivers that African elephants travel to are the Ewaso Ngiro, Hoarusib and Hoanib rivers. They can travel distances of over 62 miles. Elephants make their return to their native lands during the rainy seasons, from October to December and March to June. 

One important thing to note is that elephants migrate in three different ways. They either migrate all together as a large herd, in several family groups or individual family groups. How they choose to migrate depends on the environmental conditions. 

This elephant migration pattern is beneficial not only for elephants but also to the environment. The migration of elephants lets vegetation regrow. Plus, elephants act as pollinators. Among their journeys, elephants distribute seeds in their dung that help promote biodiversity. 

Contribute to our African elephant research!

Losing elephants would be detrimental to their habitats. That is why it is important that we continue to study everything about them including their migration patterns. You can help by donating to our research by joining our Herd of Heroes. Join down below! 

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