General information on The Elephant:
Male: tail 1,5 m ; shoulder height 3,2 – 4,0 m ; mass 5000 – 6300 kg
Female: tail 1,5 m ; shoulder height 2,5 – 3,4 m ; mass 2800 -3500 kg
Identification pointers: massive size; long trunk; usually carries tusks; large ears. The Elephant can not be mistaken for any other species.
The Elephant is apart from its vast size the largest land mammal in the world. The Elephant is characterized by its long trunk, the large ears and the presence of tusks. The Elephant trunk is extremely mobile and is almost as efficient as the human hand. The large ears serve a display function but also assist in cooling the body. The backs of the ears are well supplied with blood vessels, and as the ears are flapped the blood is cooled. Elephants may also squirt water behind the ears to cool the blood. Tusks are characteristic of most elephants, although some individuals and even populations may be tusk less.
The heaviest pair of tusks on record came from an Elephant from Kenya — respectively 102,3 kg and 97 kg . Elephant tusks continue to grow throughout life but because of continuous wear and breakages they never reach their full potential length.
The Elephant once occurred virtually throughout southern Africa but it is now restricted to the extreme northern and eastern areas. An isolated, natural population is present in the Addo Elephant National Park and 2 or 3 individuals survive in the forests near Knysna , Cape Province . It still occurs widely in Africa south of the Sahara but the populations are becoming increasingly isolated and numbers are being reduced by poaching. Habitat: Elephant have an extremely wide habitat tolerance as long as sufficient food, water and shade are available.
Live in small family groups, each led by an older cow, the matriarch. Each ~group consists of the matriarch and her offspring and may include other related cows with their young. A number of family groups may come together to form larger herds, not infrequently numbering several hundreds. The family group retains its identity during these gatherings and normally the smaller groups move off on their own. These Iarge congregations gather when food is abundant or at water, but there are no reproductive or social benefits. If left uncontrolled herds may destroy their habitat, not only for themselves but for other species as well, and culling becomes essential. Adult bulls usually only join the family herds when cows are in breeding condition and leave to join bachelor groups afterwards. A cow may mate with several bulls during estrus. Although the Elephant is active both by night and by day, it usually rests in shade during the heat of the day. It is normally a peaceful animal but when wounded, sick, or in defense of a small calf it can be dangerous.