Get to know the bull elephant! 

Updated: The Role of a Bull Elephant

When it comes to animals, people tend to believe that all male animals are the leaders of their herds. However, not all leaders of herds are males. 

In elephant herds, the leader is the matriarch elephant. This elephant is typically the oldest and largest female elephant. Elephant herds are made up of female elephants (cows) and their baby elephants (calves.)

When a young male reaches its teen years, it parts ways from its mother’s herd. Although they do not live in herds, they play a crucial role in the elephant population. Here is some knowledge about the role of an African bull elephant

What is a male elephant called?

When a male elephant is born it is called a calf. However, when it reaches adulthood, it is called a bull or bull elephant.  

What is the appearance of a male elephant?

An elephant bull has a distinct appearance from an elephant cow (female elephant.) Male elephants can grow larger than female elephants. 

The African bull elephant can get as tall as 12 to 14 feet and weigh 12,000 to 14,000 pounds. In addition, this elephant has longer and heavier tusks compared to the female African elephant.

Another distinct feature is that the elephant bull’s head is broader between the eyes and forehead. It is important to note that this is not noticeable until they reach adulthood. 

A bull elephant’s early life 

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. They rely heavily on their mother for milk in their early months. 

At four months, calves will start to eat plants, but still drink their mother's milk. The male calves will continue to live by their mothers until they reach a certain age. When the young male elephant reaches 12 to 15 years old, they will leave their mother's herd. 

A bull elephant’s teen years 

In the adolescent years, male 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 young male elephant leaves the herd, they join a small band of other bulls. These bachelors will stay together and look for food, water and potential mates. 

Unlike a female elephant (cow), a bull elephant does not form tight-knit relationships with other elephants. They can build friendships, and relationships remain fluid. 

A bull elephant’s adult years 

The male 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. After a bull elephant has mated with a female, he will stay with the female and guard her from other males

Even though the African bull elephant does not play much of a fatherly role, he is still essential. With bull elephants always traveling from one herd to another, they are helping keep the gene pool varied. In addition, the female elephants choose who they are willing to mate with and help reduce interbreeding. 

How you can help elephants

Bull elephants play a crucial role in helping keep elephant populations healthy. Currently, poachers are killing both male and female elephants for ivory. Without either, elephant populations will decrease. 

That is why we need wild conservation strategies to save elephants. You can help create wildlife conservation by donating to our research that helps find the best conservation strategies for both elephants in the wild and zoos. Make a donation or purchase our apparel to support our research.  

related articles