Do you know who makes up an elephant herd? Baby elephants? Female and male elephants? You are almost correct. Elephant herds include female elephants and their baby offspring.
Adult male elephants do not make up the elephant herds. You are probably thinking well who leads the herds? Well, the matriarch elephants are the leaders of these elephant herds.
The male elephants are also called bull elephants. They leave their mother's herd when they reach a certain age. Even though an African bull elephant leaves the herd, it still plays a critical role in the elephant population.
Just like any baby elephant, a male elephant spends its early life with its mother. For the first couple of months, these little ones stick by their mother’s side like gum. Even though they cannot see very well when they are born, they can find their mothers using their smell, touch or sound.
Elephant calves rely on their mother’s milk as their source of food. Once they are about four months old, they start to eat plants. However, elephant calves can drink their mother’s milk until they are 10 years old.
One important thing to remember is that elephant calves learn everything about survival from their mothers and other female relatives. Once they are around 12 to 14 years is when they will part ways with their mother’s herd.
It takes an African bull elephant one to four years to completely separate from its mother. During this period of separation, the bull elephants will start to spend less time with their mothers and more with other young bulls.
In the adolescent years bull elephants will start to discover who they are and what role they play within the elephant herds. They will learn the rules about adulthood, social interactions with other bulls and mating etiquette.
Once the teen bull elephants leave the herd, they join a small band of other bulls. These bachelors will stay together and look for food, water and potential mates. Unlike female elephants (cows), bull elephants do not form tight-knit relationships with other elephants. They can build friendships, and relationships remain fluid.
A bull elephant is always traveling in search of its next mate. He will jump from one herd of female elephants to another until he finds a female willing to mate. Typically, a bull elephant will mate with a female elephant up to three days before he leaves.
Even though the African bull elephant does not play much of a fatherly role, he is still essential. By a bull elephant always traveling from one herd to another, he is helping keep the gene pool varied. The possibilities of interbreeding are reduced because the female elephants will choose the best bull elephant.
Every elephant plays a crucial role in keeping populations growing. Did you know that infertility rates for captive elephants have dramatically increased? There is a possibility that elephants in zoos could face captive extinction.
You can help prevent captive extinction by donating to our research. Make a small donation to help save the elephants through our reproductive research. Donate today!