Known as the world’s’ largest land animal, elephants can be as gentle as they are dangerous. Regardless of the way they may be portrayed, we have a few things to share about these wildly fascinating, endangered creatures.
There are two widely recognized species of elephant- Asian and African elephants. Some experts argue that there are in fact 3 types of elephant and differentiate between bush and forest elephants in Africa. Zimbabwe is home to the second largest elephant population of African elephants in the world and these can be seen all over the country, mostly in controlled wildlife environments, but from time to time, in towns too.
Let’s not waste any time, here you go:
- The smartest mammals on earth. Apart from the great apes- humans, gorillas and chimps- elephants are the smartest animals on earth- like we said – apart from the great apes (which include humans).
- Elephants are matriarchal meaning the herd is led by a female elephant. The head of the herd is usually the oldest and sometimes largest female- a female elephant is a cow.
- Elephants need to roam and while some species of animal survive very long periods in captivity, elephant health has been shown to deteriorate drastically when in captivity.
- Did you know there are two types of African elephant? Yep, Most people distinguish between two types of elephant in general, not the experts. There are significant differences between the African Savannah Elephant and the African Forest Elephant. The Savannah elephant is bigger than the forest elephant, the tusks are different, the head shapes are the same but differ in size, the ears are different in size and shape. Forest elephants live in much smaller groups than their savannah buddies. The two types are also found in different countries around Africa. There is a lot. So, they are different.
- Male elephants are most dangerous when in Musth. Musth or Must is the Sanskrit word for Intoxicated, hence, this period for an elephant is described as ‘intoxicated with lust.’ There is a lot that goes on here, but basically, hormones make the elephants a little crazy, and males challenge each other to fight a lot more. More than that, watching elephants put on their show is a spectacle in itself. Just do not approach. No matter what.
- Elephants can starve to death once their teeth run out. That’s right, RUN OUT. Elephants develop 6 sets of teeth that with each set, push forward to the front of their mouth to aid in their eating process. Once the last of these 6 sets of teeth are pushed forward and wear out, the elephant is no longer able to nourish itself sufficiently. The elephant will either die from starvation or from disease due to the lack of nutrition.
- A grand 22 months gestation period- the longest of any mammal. An elephant calf can be as big as 110kg at birth. We guess it takes a really long time to create all that awesomeness.
- Elephants create so much methane gas they can probably power a car for 32km. Elephants eat for up to 16 hours a day. 16 HOURS. Also. They have been known to eat up to 600lb a day- as in over 2,500 kg of food a day. A DAY. Can we be shocked?
- Elephants mourn their dead. Yep, you read right. Elephants are known to cover the bodies of their fallen community members with leaves and occasionally come back to the site of death to pick up bones and maintain the area. They are even known to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders.
Elephants are truly amazing creatures. We hope when you next see one you take a moment to appreciate it in full.