Also available in Notecard Assortment Packs #AST-512
African elephant is the largest and strongest of all living land
animals and may live as long as 60 years. An adult bull can weigh
up to 13,000 lbs and stand 13 feet tall at the shoulder. Cows
are smaller, weighing up to 8,000 lbs and measuring up to 8.5
feet tall. Calves weigh as much as 250 lbs at birth.
the most remarkable thing about the African elephant is its long
and flexible muscular trunk. It is an elongated upper lip with
nostrils at the end and two fingerlike bumps for grasping. With
it the elephant can pluck leaves, gather fruit, crop grass, uproot
trees, drink water, or blow dust and water over its body. Through
it an elephant can catch faint scents or trumpet loudly.
fan-shaped ears help elephants cool off in hot weather. During
the hottest part of the day, elephants stand in the shade and
flap their ears to move air across their bodies. Flapping also
helps to reduce body temperature by cooling blood that circulates
through large blood vessels in the ears. On windy days, elephants
simply hold their ears out to catch the cooling breezes.
live in a complex multi-tiered social system centered around small
family units composed of several adult females and their calves
of various ages. Each unit is led by the oldest, wisest female
in the family. She is responsible for the groups safety
and for finding food and water. All females, including adolescents,
share in teaching and caring for infants. Adolescent bulls are
forced to leave the family at about thirteen years of age. They
will either live alone or in the company of other bulls. Despite
their independence, bulls are still sociable and are rarely found
more than a mile from another bull or family unit.
units within kinship groups usually stay within hearing range
of each other so they can swiftly combine to beat off attacks
by predators. Aggregations tend to be very large when food is
plentiful or the danger of predation is high, and small when food
availability is low.
© 1996 Dianne Harrah, Drawing © 1996 Bill Harrah.