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Safari Africa Animal Fact Sheet
AFRICAN ELEPHANT
(Loxodonta africana)

Range:
South of Sahara Desert to southern tip of Africa and from Atlantic Ocean to Indian Ocean Females travel in a group led by oldest female or matriarch. Family unit contains closely related cows and young with complex social order for defense, teaching the young and enhanced mating opportunities. Will defend calves by circling them. Matriarch will head defense. Males are forced out of the group at puberty. Bulls roam in small loose herds or live alone.

Low vocalization from larynx (tummy rumble) used to keep contact or as warning and can be heard up to .6 miles. Another organ (alinasal cartilage) located high in trunk, is used to modify sounds and act as a resonating chamber. Loud trumpeting when at play, surprised or about to attack.

Tusks used for prying bark off trees, digging for roots, and to rest or protect the trunk. Also used for display and as a weapon. Can be left or right tusked (called "master tusk"). Master tusk is usually shorter and rounded at the end with wear.

Trunk is used to feed from ground, shrubs and trees, breaking off branches, aid in drinking, greeting, caressing, threatening, squirting water on its back to cool off. It can serve as a snorkel, dig up roots, used as a status symbol, or to rub an eye or ear. Used for gestures to warn enemies and throw things. An elephant can use its trunk to hold tools such as a stick to scratch its skin. Display dominance with raised head, trunk and ears. Will also snap ears, shake head, make trumpeting noises and rumble.

Dung contains seeds from diet, which promotes rapid germination. Dig and enlarge water holes that other animals use and act as fire breaks. Stir up insects for birds and reptiles. Create paths through brush. Because of height, act as lookout for other animals. Locomotion is meandering, but will walk at 2 mph. Will charge up to 25 mph for short distances.

Poachers are only threat to adults. Lions and hyenas attack calves.

In the wild, elephants are in trouble.  Elephant populations in Africa are under severe threat from human-elephant conflict, intense poaching, disease, and dramatic loss of habitat. Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos, like Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, are leaders in elephant conservation education and science, and invite the public to celebrate and support elephants by visiting them year round. Click here to learn more.



Elephant Habitat Sponsored By:

Habitat: African savannas, forests, river valleys and marshes
Diet: Leaves, roots, bark, grasses and fruit. Consumes from 165-330 lbs. per day. Drinks 20-40 gallons of water per day. During wet times eats grass, herbs and papyrus. During dry times eats leaves from trees and bushes. Older elephants, because of lack of teeth, are often found in swampy areas where vegetation is softer.
Status: Vulnerable (IUCN) due to poaching and habitat loss
Approximate Dimensions of Adult: Height at shoulder: Bull - 12 ft. Cow - 9ft.
Weight: Bull - up to 6 tons. Cow - up to 3 tons.
Lifespan: In the wild, up to 60 years. Up to 80 years in captivity.
Reproduction & Offspring: Gestation averages 630 days, almost 2 years. Calf will weigh about 265 lbs. at birth. Will be able to follow mother shortly after birth. Calves will nurse for 2 yrs. Will begin eating forage from mother's mouth with trunk at about 6 months.

 

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