1. African elephants live in Africa and Asian elephants live in Asia.
2. African elephants are bigger.
3. Also, African elephants have bigger ears.
4. Both male and female African elephants have tusks, but only male Asian elephants do.
5. African elephants have two finger-like things at the tip of their trunks, and Asian elephants only have one.
6. Asian elephants can be tamed, and they will carry heavy loads and do a bunch of work for people, but African elephants prefer being self-employed.
There are two different species of African elephant, and one is called the African Bush Elephant or Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta africana), and the other is called the African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis). The word loxodonta is Greek, and it means "oblique-sided tooth."
An elephant has four molars to chew with. Each one weighs about 11 pounds and is 12 inches long. Okay, now here's the interesting thing: when the front two molars get all worn down, they fall out, and the other two molars move forward to take their place. Meanwhile, two brand-new molars grow in in the back of the mouth. An elephant gets new teeth 6 times, and then by the time it is between 40 and 60 years old, it doesn't have any teeth left, and it starves to death.
The elephant's tusks are actually the second set of incisors that grow out really long. A baby elephant starts growing tusks when it is about 2 years old. There are many good uses for tusks, such as digging up roots, tearing bark off of trees, herding young, and poking around in the ground to find water. Also tusks can be used as weapons in a fight. They weigh between 51 and 99 pounds, and they can be from 5 to 8 feet long.
Of course, the thing that makes elephants really special and different is that they have trunks. The trunk is a combination of what would be the nose and the upper lip of any other animal. Elephants' trunks are about 7 feet long, and they are very muscular and strong. Trunks are used for eating, drinking, and taking dust baths or water baths. When elephants drink, they suck up as much as 2 gallons of water into their trunks and then squirt the water into their mouths.
Elephants are very smart, and they are also very social. A herd of elephants is usually made up of females and their young, with the oldest female as their leader. This leader is called the matriarch, and she's the one who decides where the herd goes. She knows how to find all the water sources, and she teaches the locations to the other members of the herd. When one of the elephants gives birth, all the other females come and touch the baby with their trunks. And when an elephant dies, the others will stay by its body for a while.
African elephants have a conservation status of VULNERABLE. They have been hunted for their ivory tusks since at least the 14th century. During all the years when Africa was under colonial rule, the Europeans exported ivory so that they could make things like piano keys and billiard balls out of it.
|Fang Traders With Ivory|
Forest elephants live in west and central Africa, where there are still a lot of tropical rainforests. Bush elephants live more in eastern and southern Africa, with the biggest bunches of them in Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa. In some areas, there are plenty of elephants, but in other places there aren't very many. There are several protected areas for elephants, but less than 20% of the elephants' range is formally protected.
|Elephant at the KC Zoo|
Okay, well, this was a very BIG topic, so it's hard to say everything there is to say about elephants in one little blog entry. I don't think I would want to see an elephant in person because I would be afraid the elephant would step on me, and then I would be as flat as a little black-and-white pancake!