The largest Mammal on Earth
THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT (Africana Loxondanta)
Termed as the largest land mammal this majestic gentle creatures are known to be one of the most social animals, living a matriarchal system whereby the female is the herd leader. Weighing up to 7 tonnes in male, the female are much smaller in size weighing up to 4 tonnes and calves can weigh up to 120kg at birth. The gestation period is known to be the longest among the mammals taking up to 18-22 months and reaching maturity at 7-10 years. The male juveniles opt to leave the herd at maturity and join the male herd.
Spreading across the African continent the African elephant is found in 37 countries and Kenya is among the countries to visit and enjoy the sight of these creatures and the spread across the Kenyan savannah and forest areas with Amboseli National Parks being the most ideal park to see the large herds of these gentle gentiles. Unlike their cousins the Indian elephant where only the male have tusks, African elephant are known to posses 2 tusks in both sexes which are a vital tool for their survival. These tusks make these animals an endangered species due to poaching (ILLEGAL IVORY TRADE) also wildlife human conflict is another issues as well. The unique nose or the trunk as its known is used to collect food and water. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of diet consisting of leaves, roots and tree branches. Elephants love water and can smell water hole miles away (8 miles). Elephants can consume up to 200 liters of water a day and though their skin is hard they use water to cool their body. The trunk is the tool used to spray and take the water to the mouth. During the dry season the elephant are known to dig water holes along the dry streams using their tusks which in return is a key survival to other animals during the dry harsh conditions
With poor visibility an elephant relies on a good sense of hearing and their big ears act as a cooling system as well for their gigantic bodies. Been social animals communication is the key and is based on vibration sounds known as ‘RUMBLES.’ They are known to have a good sense of memory and they sleep while standing which is actually about 2hrs in a day. Though with their massive body mass they average a walk of about 25 km in a day.
Elephants have a lifespan of up to 70 years in wild and sadly it’s known that they can only live for about 20 years in captivity. Apart from poaching and wildlife human conflict, most die of natural death causes, old age, diseases or in rare cases predators. Its interesting to note that unlike other mammals’ elephants shed their teeth (MOLARS) 6 times in their life time, and at old age (60-70 years) the shedding is a bit painful and uncomfortable creating a massive problem. They are unable to masticate enough food to sustain their body an eventually dies of hunger. Thanks to the Kenyan Government in partnership with the non –governmental organization such as Amboseli Elephant trust , David Shedrick wildlife trust among others in their effort in protecting the welfare of these creatures.
These magnificent creature having been roaming the world for millions of year and yet they may not be kings of the jungle or among the Seven Wonders of the World but they are truly a master piece in their own status and symbol.