The elephant is the largest of the land mammals. A bull elephant like the one above can weigh up to thirteen thousand pounds. Thats about six and a half tons!
The African Elephant is larger than the Asian Elephant, their ears are wider, and their back has a dip instead of a hump.
The tusks of an African bull elephant can weigh over one hundred pounds each. Females usually have smaller tusks. An elephant has poor eyesight, but its hearing and sense of smell are very good.
Elephants live in herds of between ten and twenty or even more animals. A herd will have one older female (cow) as leader and chief educator. Other females and young of both sexes make up the rest of the herd. Older males (bulls) wander off to live by themselves. They are joined by females at mating time. Pregnant females then return to the herd to give birth and raise their young, which mature slowly at about the same rate as humans.
Elephants communicate among themselves through a variety of sounds they make with their mouths and stomachs.
An elephant must consume about five hundred and fifty pounds of vegetation a day. They are constantly on the move and can be quite destructive to the environment. The bull elephant above is breaking off a branch to get at the leaves.
Elephants breed year round. A baby elephant takes almost two years to grow in its mother's womb. At birth a baby elephant weighs almost three hundred pounds and is about three feet tall. An elephant will continue to grow for twenty-three years, and has a life span averaging sixty to seventy years. Some have even lived to be over 100!
Elephants are endangered by Africa's rapidly expanding human population. Soon they may only exist in protected wildlife preserves.