Lusaka Elephant Nursery - ZambiaOrphaned elephants need a new herd and a new home
The elephant originated in Africa and Asia, the only regions where wild populations are found today. The earliest elephant fossil remains date back 4 million years ago.
The largest male elephants can weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms). For comparison, an average male human weighs about 180 pounds (82 kilograms). How much do elephants weigh at birth? African elephants can weigh up to nearly 200 pounds when born!
Yes, the African and Asian elephants are the largest living land animals. Males can stand up to 13 feet (4 meters) high at the shoulder.
The Borneo elephant, also known as the Bornean pygmy elephant, is the smallest species of elephant by size. Found in Asia, adult Bornean pygmy elephants stand at less than 5 feet (1.5 meters) high. These elephants can weigh up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms).
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 the body.
An elephant’s trunk is like a long, flexible nose. The trunk is used for drinking, bathing, smelling, breathing, trumpeting, and grabbing things. Elephants will also use their trunks to show affection.
Although elephants have large and thick bodies with little fat covering ideal for storing water, elephants are highly dependent on water sources. Even the desert elephant, suited for dry climates, can only go a maximum of 3 days without water. Just behind the tongue of an elephant is a small pouch called the pharyngeal pouch. This area, most commonly used by elephants to make a deep rumbling sound for communication, can store about a gallon of water. Elephants will also use their feet, trunks, and tusks to dig large holes in dry riverbeds and reach water sources.
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.
Both male and female African elephants have tusks, but only male Asian elephants have tusks. Tusks are used as a tool for digging, gathering food, and defending themselves. Elephant tusks are highly prized in the ivory trade, resulting in illegal elephant poaching. IFAW is working in Asia and Africa to reduce market supply and consumer demand for elephant ivory, where the demand is highest. Learn how you can help protect elephants.
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 or other rodents, elephants are no more afraid of mice than other animals that might quickly scurry by.
IFAW works tirelessly to help all types of animals, including elephants. Explore IFAW’s work to help elephants, and learn more about these beautiful creatures at our information hub page dedicated to African bush elephants.
Team Lioness is transforming what it means to be a woman ranger protecting African elephants and other wildlife from poachers at the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Read about their innovative work to save these animals.