African Elephant
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 Facts and Knowledge:

Although the African elephant is the largest and most powerful of all living mammals, it is also among the most gentle, living in peaceful family units. essentially an animal of open grasslands, the African elephant is adaptable within its happily in a variety of habitats within its sub-Saharan African homeland. But wherever it lives the elephant never strays far from a water supply of drinking and bathing water.

Habits: Elephants are social animals with strong family ties.  So close are the relationships that they even bury their dead with twigs and leaves.  They also grieve over their lose, staying be the "grave" for many hours. Cows (females) and their calves, live in family units under the leadership of a mature member of the group is related. Young bulls (males) are driven from the family when they reach puberty to live in separate bachelor herds.  Adult bulls live alone and join a family unit only briefly when a female is ready to mate.

Herds may wonder great distances, but they never move far from water. Elephants like baths every evening, so they they stay close to any available pool or stream.  They'll make do with a shower-- squirted from the trunk - if water is scarce. After bathing they coat their skin in dirt to protect them from insects.

Communication:  When elephants are foraging for food out of site of one another, they communicate by making noises similar to gargling.  If an elephant senses possible danger, it will alert the others by stopping the noise. Conflicts between elephants are communicated by a threat display in which the superior will twirl its trunk or throw dust into the air. Sometimes an elephant will also make the trumpeting noise for which it is famous.  The display is also used to warn enemies. It its signals are ignored, the threatened elephant may charge at its attacker.  But charges are rarely carried through; at the last moment, the elephant either stops short or turns aside.

Breeding: Elephants mate when they are 14 to 15 years old.  Courtship involves a display of affection between the cow and bull in which they caress each other with their trunks.  A single calf, standing about 33 inches high and weighing approximately 250 pounds is born 22 months later. The calf is suckled for a least 2 years and remains in the family unit after the birth of its mother next calf.  A cow usually gives birth about every 4 years and will often have two or three calves with her at the same time.  Cows defend their young vigorously, charging any intruders.

Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species

Height:
Male: 10 ft to shoulder
Female: A little smaller
Weight: male up to 6 tons. female up to 4 tons

Breeding:
Sexual maturity: 14-15 years
Mating: Any time
Gestation: 22 months
No of young Usually 1 calf

Lifestyle: 
Habit: Live together in family unit' adults males are solitary.
Call: A throaty rumbling as constant communication or loud trumpeting when angry.
Diet: Entirely vegetarian grass foliage, fruit, branches, twigs.
Life span: about 70 years

Distribution: In most parts of Africa, south of the Sahara.
Conservation: The African elephant is now endangered. Hunting is banned, but poaching for ivory is still widespread. In Kenya alone, numbers have been reduced from 150,000 to 20,000 in the last 10 years.  Gamekeepers are almost powerless against the sophisticated machine guns used by poachers.

Special features about the African Elephant:
Ears: Used as a fan to create a stream of air over the animals body.
Trunk: Used for breathing and smelling, and as an extra limb for picking up food, browsing in tall branches, drinking, and bathing.
Feet: Undersides soft and cushioned so it can carry its great weight almost noiselessly.
Teeth: Only 4 functional teeth 12 inches long. 1 in each quarter of jaw. They can be replaced 6 times.
Tusks: Elongated incisor teeth that continue to grow throughout the elephants lifetime.

Did you know:

Elephants will eat up to 500 pounds of vegetation a day and drink up to 40 gallons of water at a time?
An elephant can walk faster that a man, maintaining a steady sped of 5 51/2 miles per hour. A herd on the march can easily cover a distance of 50 miles per day.
When water is scarce during the dry season, elephants will dig for water in the sandy bed of a river that has stopped flowing.
The largest tusk ever recorded ws 10 feet long and weighed nearly 230 pounds

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