What is grey, has a trunk, weighs thousands of pounds and roams South Africa? If you said an African elephant, you are correct. This animal is one of Africa's Big Five. This term means that they are considered one of the most challenging animals to hunt.
What many people do not know is that African elephants are listed as vulnerable. They are at risk of becoming endangered. That is why our elephant research team wants to educate others on why these large animals need to be protected. Here are some African elephant facts that help get to know these animals better.
There are two species of African elephants.
One of the African elephant facts that many do not know is that there are two species of African elephants - the African bush elephant (also known as African savanna elephant) and the African forest elephant. As their name suggests, one elephant lives in the open savannas and other deep forests.
African elephants are 8.2 to 13 feet tall and weigh 2.5 to 7 tons.
African elephants don't get the title of the largest land animal just because they can. National Geographic reports these gentle animals can average 8.2 to 13 feet from head to toes. They also have weight to match. These elephants are between 2.5 to 7 tons.
African elephants are herbivores.
Herbivores are animals that only eat plants. An elephant's diet consists of leaves, grasses, bark, shrubs, fruits, roots and twigs. Elephants are capable of devouring 600 pounds each day. To consume all that food, they spend 12 to 18 hours every day eating.
African elephants live in herds.
Although many people tend to believe that African elephants live in herds, typically only female elephants (cow elephants). Male elephants live alone or in small pods. The size of the herd depends on where the elephants live. African forest elephants tend to have smaller herds, while African bush elephants have larger herds.
One of the least known African elephant facts is that the leader of the herds is usually the oldest and largest female (matriarch elephant). Their herd consists of their daughters and their offspring. The matriarch leads the herd because they have the most wisdom of where to find water, food and how to avoid dangers.
There are around 415,000 African elephants left in the wild.
Sadly, due to poaching and human conflicts, African elephant populations have declined. African elephants are poached for their ivory tusks. Their tusks are used to create ivory products like statues, ornaments and jewelry. However, the international trade of these products is illegal. Ivory products are being illegally trafficked.
Human conflict also plays a role in African elephant population decline. Elephants and humans find themselves fighting for land. This has caused elephants to raid farmers' crops or make their way into villages. These actions have endangered both the lives of humans and elephants.
African elephants are not self-sustaining in zoos.
Recent elephant research shows that African elephants in zoos are not self-sustaining. There are more zoo elephant deaths than births (3 births vs. 5 deaths annually). The reason behind this is due to an increased infertility rate of zoo elephants.
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At For Elephants, we are working to improve elephants' fertility rates in zoos across the United States. You can help us save elephants by joining the "Herd of Heroes" and making a monthly donation. For the latest updates, join our newsletter down below.