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Where do elephants come from?
Elephants originated in Africa and Asia, the only regions where wild elephant populations are found today. Two species of elephant are native to Africa, the African savannah elephant and the African forest elephant. In Asia, there is one species, the Asian elephant—but this species contains a few subspecies, including the Sri Lankan elephant, Indian elephant, Borneo elephant, and Sumatran elephant.
The oldest known elephant ancestor is a species called Eritherium, which only grew to be about 60 centimetres tall. This species lived during the Paleocene epoch (between 66 million and 56 million years ago) in Morocco. The earliest fossil of a modern-day elephant species dates back to 4 million years ago.
How much does an elephant weigh?
African savannah elephants are the largest elephant species. The biggest male African savannah elephants can weigh up to 6,800 kilograms (15,000 pounds). For comparison, an average male human weighs about 82 kilograms (180 pounds).
On the other hand, Borneo elephants are the smallest elephant subspecies. Adult male Borneo elephants can weigh as little as 2,950 kilograms (6,600 pounds).
What’s the largest elephant on record?
The largest elephant ever recorded was an adult male African savannah elephant. He weighed nearly 11,000 kilograms (24,000 pounds) and was nearly four metres (13 feet) tall.
How much do elephants weigh at birth?
Newborn Asian elephant calves weigh about 90 to 113 kilograms (200 to 250 pounds).
Baby African elephants weigh about 91 kilograms (200 pounds) as well.
These calves become capable of walking only about an hour after they’re born, and they stand about one metre (three feet) tall. Baby elephants don’t drink milk with their trunks—they use their mouths. This means they need to stand very quickly after they are born to reach their mothers.
Are elephants really the largest living land animals?
Yes, the African and Asian elephants are the largest living land animals. Specifically, the African savannah elephant is the largest species. Males can stand up to 4 metres (13 feet) tall at the shoulder.
What is the smallest elephant?
Borneo elephants, also known as Borneo pygmy elephants, are the smallest elephants. They’re a subspecies of the Asian elephant. Adult Borneo elephants stand shorter than 1.5 metres (5 feet) tall. They can weigh as little as 2,950 kilograms (6,600 pounds) as adult males.
Why did elephants evolve such large ears?
Elephants do not have sweat glands. Instead, they use their large ears, which have a high concentration of veins, to keep cool. By flapping their ears, elephants cool the blood in their ears, which is then transported to the rest of their bodies.
How does an elephant use its trunk?
An elephant’s trunk is like a long, flexible nose. They use their trunks for drinking water, bathing, smelling, breathing, trumpeting, and grabbing things. Sometimes elephants also use their trunks to show affection.
Can an elephant go for days without water?
Although elephants have large, thick bodies with little fat covering—ideal for storing water—elephants are highly dependent on water sources. Even the African savannah elephant, suited for dry climates, can only survive for a maximum of 3 days without water.
Just behind the tongue of an elephant is a small pouch called the pharyngeal pouch. Most commonly used to make a deep rumbling sound for communication, this pouch can also store about a gallon of water.
Elephants use their feet, trunks, and tusks to dig large holes in dry riverbeds and reach water sources. This gives the opportunity to other, smaller species to access these watering holes, which may previously have been inaccessible to them. In this way, elephants act as ecosystem engineers and benefit biodiversity as a whole.
Which animals prey on elephants?
Lions, hyenas, and crocodiles all prey on baby elephants. Adult elephants have very few natural predators, though lions have been known to brazenly hunt elephants when desperate.
Elephants live in herds, and they work together to protect each other and ward off predators. Some techniques include making sounds like growls, displays of hostile body language, and charging at the predators in large groups. The herd is led by an older female elephant.
Do all elephants have tusks?
Both male and female African elephants have tusks, but only male Asian elephants have tusks. These tusks are used as tools for digging, gathering food, and defense against predators.
Elephant tusks are highly prized in the ivory trade, resulting in illegal elephant poaching. When a poacher targets an elephant for its tusks, it is typically killed. IFAW is working in Asia and Africa to reduce market supply and consumer demand for elephant ivory where it is highest.
Are elephants afraid of mice?
While this myth about elephants being afraid of mice may be widespread, it’s hardly rooted in fact. While elephants may be startled by mice and other rodents, elephants are no more afraid of mice than they are of other animals that might quickly scurry past them.
How long are elephants pregnant?
How long do elephants live?
Elephants can live for up to 70 years in the wild. A study from 2008 found that elephants live longer in the wild than they do in captivity—wild elephants lived three times as long on average. While wild elephants in the study lived 56 years on average, those in captivity only lived 17 years.
What do elephants eat?
Elephants are herbivores. They eat grasses, leaves, roots, fruits, and other plant parts. Often, they help other animals eat, too, by lowering vegetation to the ground. Their diet also helps disperse seeds and support plant biodiversity.
How many elephants are left in the world?
As of 2018, it’s estimated that there are around 48,000 to 52,000 remaining Asian elephants. A 2016 report suggested there are about 415,000 elephants remaining in Africa (accounting for both forest and savannah elephants). This marks a decline of about 111,000 in just ten years.
In total, this means there are likely fewer than 500,000 total elephants globally. While this number might seem large, it doesn’t paint the full picture of how much these species have declined in recent decades.
What is IFAW doing to help elephants?
IFAW works tirelessly to help all types of animals, including elephants. One of our most ambitious initiatives is Room to Roam, a vision for elephant conservation that involves connecting their fragmented habitats across the African continent.
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