One of the most majestic animals in the world is the elephant. There are about 450,000 African elephants in the wild, but there are only about 45,000 Asian elephants. While these numbers may seem high, elephants have actually been decreasing in number, often to issues such as poaching. It is incredibly important that people learn more about elephants as they are vital to the world's ecosystem and simply a beautiful creature that deserves to be respected.
1. World's largest land mammal
While most adult Asian elephants can weigh up to 11,000 pounds, many African elephants weigh up to 14,000 pounds. Baby elephants are big even when they are born with many weighing up to 200 pounds. Many people do not realize just how large elephants are!
2. Enormous appetite
An elephant spends up to 80 percent of its day eating and can consume up to 350 pounds of food in a single day. One of the reasons they need to eat so much is that up to 60 percent of that food passes right through their systems without nourishing them. An elephant may also drink up to 56 gallons of water per day. One of the jobs of the matriarch is to remember where watering holes are located, especially during the dry season.
3. Elephant herds
Elephants live in herds. Most herds are led by an older female elephant, and they consist of four to six daughters and their offspring. Some herds, however, can include up to 20 members. Oftentimes, when food becomes scarce, herds split, but they may meet up at favorite watering holes or food sources in order to socialize. When it is necessary for herds to move, they follow in single file behind the matriarch. When the matriarch passes away, usually her oldest daughter takes her place.
4. Males are not solitary
In the past, scientists believed that male elephants left herds when they were about 13 years old to live a solitary life, but it now seems like that is not the case. Most male elephants end up living with a group of other males where they can learn by watching examples set by older males. However, these groups are not as tight-knit as female groups.
Why they’re important
These animals are referred to as keystone animals by scientists because they are important in preserving the biosystems where they live. During the dry season, elephants use their trunks to dig up water for themselves and many other animals. Some plant species rely totally on elephants to disperse their seeds. Their dung adds organic matter to the soil allowing even more plants to thrive, which other animals then eat. Without elephants, their ecosystems would seriously suffer.