Misunderstood and often maligned, elephants are one of the most interesting animals on the planet. These massive mammals have more in common with humans than many people realize. For example, they form tight-knit communities within their herds that resemble human families. They also mourn their dead like we do—by paying respects to deceased members that were once part of their community.
Elephants are incredibly intelligent, and it might be this trait that leads to their constant persecution. They destroy crops like wheat or coffee, which makes them unwelcome in many human communities. People also kill elephants for their tusks. These tusks can sell for thousands of dollars on the black market, making any elephant a target.
Description & Appearance
The elephant's appearance is often the first thing that people notice about these animals. The beady eyes and long trunk give elephants a cute, child-like appearance similar to that of a Disney character. However, contrary to popular belief, their skin isn't grey or wrinkly like an elephant's skin in the circus; in fact, it's closer to the color of sand.
Towering over most mammals, elephants are the largest land animals on earth. Males can grow up to 13 feet tall at their shoulders, and weigh over 20 tons (that's like a small school bus). Elephants can't jump or gallop like most mammals; instead, they move about by walking.
Galloping its way into your bedroom is Gage Beasley’s Elephant Soft Stuffed Plush Toy! Don’t worry, it won’t stomp you to the ground. However, it will stomp you to sleep as far as I’m concerned. These cute little elephants are ready to lend their tusked comforts!
Elephant tusks are the second defining feature of elephants, behind their sheer size. The tusks can grow up to 8 feet long. Males use their tusks for protection, digging, and moving things around in their habitats. Females lack tusks entirely, but they do have a similar type of protuberance that is often confused with the males’.
Elephants are herbivores, meaning they only eat vegetation. They spend about 16 hours a day eating in order to sustain their enormous size. Food for elephants includes leaves, grasses, roots, fruits, tree bark, and seeds. They can consume up to 300 pounds of food each day!
Elephant pregnancies can last up to 2 years and usually result in one calf (although there are reports of twins). After a gestation period of 660 days (that's about 22 months), calves emerge weighing up to 200 lbs. They nurse for another year before weaning and will live with their mother, family group, or herd for about 12 years.
Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild, but they're becoming increasingly endangered as humans hunt them down for their tusks, skin, meat, and other body parts. In fact, some conservationists estimate that there are only 350,000 elephants left in the wild. Poaching is a huge problem—not only for elephants but other animals such as rhinos and tigers that are targeted by poachers for their horns or bones.
Distribution and Conservation Status
As mentioned in the introduction, there are only a few hundred thousand elephants left in the wild. While their populations in Asia and Africa have been protected from extinction threats for now, they're still endangered. In fact, some conservationists estimate that they could go extinct within a century.
Elephants are hunted for their tusks, which are ground up and used in traditional medicine. Poaching is a huge problem for these animals, even though it's illegal in most countries.
There are several organizations that work to conserve the habitat of elephants so they can flourish without poaching or other threats. You can support organizations like Save The Elephants, WWF, African Wildlife Foundation, or International Fund for Animal Welfare by making a donation.
If you have the resources, you can also volunteer your time to help these organizations. You might visit elephant sanctuaries in Africa or Asia that are protected areas where the animals are safe from threats like poaching.
You can play an important role in ensuring the survival of these majestic animals by supporting conservation efforts.
Elephants are one of the most recognizable animals on earth, but many people don't know much about them aside from their appearance. Their sheer size is enough to catch anyone's attention, but there's more to these amazing creatures than meets the eye!
If you're interested in learning more about elephants or helping out conservation efforts, you can visit one of the numerous elephant sanctuaries around the world. For instance, Elephant Nature Park is located in Chiang Mai, Thailand and offers opportunities to volunteer with elephants.
You can also advocate for these animals by supporting conservation efforts or sharing this article with your friends on social media!