Who is not familiar with the elephant? The animal is easily recognized by humans because of their large size, nose or long proboscis, the pair of tusks sticking out of its mouth. Based on the habitat and physical characteristics, elephants can be divided into two kinds: the African elephant and the Asian elephant. Well, this article will discuss the African elephant. African elephants famous for its reputation as the world’s largest land animal.
The African elephant is a kind of elephant that can only be found in the African continent, exactly in the south, east, and the west of the continent. Their habitat varies widely, ranging from deserts, grasslands, swamps, to the dense forest. As for other than the African elephant, the other elephant species are also known to live on the continent is the forest elephant whose size is slightly smaller and darker skin than the African elephant.
The African elephant has some important physical differences when compared with their relatives in the neighboring continent, the Asian elephant. In terms of size, for example, African elephants larger than Asian elephants. Backs of African elephants tend to be flat, while the Asian elephant’s back rather stand at the front. African elephant ear leaf also wider than the Asian elephant ear leaf. Then when the tip of its trunk seen, the African elephant has two nostrils, while Asian elephants have only one nostril.
The Land Mighty Giant
The physical appearance of a typical African elephant, and is different from other land-dwelling animals is not without reason. Elephant ear leaf width, for example, can be used as a sort of a fan to help cool the body temperature of an elephant. Elephant trunk which was originally a modification of the nose and invertebrates have more or less similar functions with hand function in humans. Elephant ivory and original long form is a modification of its front teeth are very useful to help break down the tree so that the elephants can reach the food on top of the tree which is not covered by the trunk.
Already alluded to in the beginning of the article was that the African elephant is the largest land animal in the world. The predicate is appropriate if you see the size of the African elephant. Height of the African elephant can reach 3.7 m, length is 7.5 m, while its weight can reach 6 tons! Male elephant is slightly larger than the female elephants. The size of a large African elephant in turn helped contribute to the physical strength. By using its trunk is 5 m, the African elephant can lift heavy loads up to 250 kg.
Another benefit of its large size and strength of the mighty is its ability to change the local environment. When pulling down trees to get food and pave the way to be skipped, elephants open up local land was formerly a lush forest into a meadow that can be used by animals grazing. Then when elephants digging a dry river to get water, African elephants help provide a source of water that is very beneficial for other animals during the dry season arrives.
The Traveler which Likes to Eat a Lot
African elephants are herbivores that can eat almost all kinds of parts of plants, ranging from fruits, leaves,stem, roots. Because of its large size, the African elephant also requires large amounts of food. Every day, an African elephant needs food as much as 100-300 kg and water as much as nearly 200 liters. To chew its food, the elephants have four molars which over time will date and replaced by a new molar. Throughout the life of elephants, one set of teeth will experience a change of a maximum of 3 times. Thereafter, when the elephants back lost teeth, the teeth will not grow anymore and elephants would die of hunger as a result could not chew its food.
African elephants have a pattern to live in groups, where the number of members may range between 200-1000 elephants. An elephant group formed when a “family group” consisting of a female elephant and its children joined a group of other families. There are no adult male elephants in the group because the young male elephants will leave the family group when entering the age of sexual maturity. The male elephant next lives alone or join with other male elephants to form small flocks.
The elephants have a nomadic lifestyle, which means they often move if the food supply at a given location is not sufficient anymore. The leader of a group of elephants is the oldest female elephant in a group in charge of organizing all kinds of group activities such as when to walk and began to relax. African elephants generally do most of their activities during the day, but in areas inhabited by humans, elephants have a tendency to be more active at night.
Grow and Proliferate
African elephants have no specific breeding season and basically can perform marriage anytime. But the intensity of breeding African elephants tends to be higher during the rainy season than the dry season. When there are males who find the elephant group, the males will stay with the group for a few weeks and married the female elephants in it. After mating, the female will go through a gestation period of 22 months, the longest compared to other mammals.
Female elephant gives birth to a baby only once delivery. All members of the group, will be compact in the care of a baby elephant. For example, during the period of breastfeeding, the baby elephant that can last up to 9 years of age, a baby elephant will be fed by the mother and other female elephants. The elephant calf that has small size also makes it vulnerable to attack by predators such as lions and hyenas. To anticipate, when predators approach, the adult elephants will march in a circle with the children elephant in the middle of the circle.
Elephant calf experiencing a period of sexual maturity between the ages of 10-12 years. Female elephants will remain in the group, but the male elephant will leave the group to live alone or forming small groups that contain male elephants. But it was only at the age of 25 years, a bull elephant began to actively compete with other males to find mates. An African elephant is known to live up to a maximum age of 80 years. The African elephant has never stopped growing in its life, but after entering the age of sexual maturity, the pace of growth slowed.
Relationship with Humans
As a result of its large size, adult African elephants have no natural enemies. The greatest threat from the African elephant – again – came from humans, especially poachers who target ivory. As a result of a massive hunt that has lasted for decades, the African elephant population is declining sharply. In addition to be taken tusk, African elephant was also killed because often entering agricultural land owned by local residents. Outside poaching, destruction of elephant habitat due to intensive logging also contribute to threaten the existence of elephants.
Some efforts have been made to prevent the African elephant totally extinct. Since 1990, trade in ivory has been banned worldwide. Nevertheless, poaching and illegal ivory trade are still rife. To address them, the patrol and surveillance activities strictly in areas inhabited by wild elephants were carried out. Scientists and local authorities are also trying to keep elephants from human settlements to prevent any conflicts between elephants with the locals, one of them by playing a sound recording swarm of bees to scare the elephants.
Human’s relationship with the African elephant itself is not always a bad relationship with one another. African elephants become one magnet for tourists who want to witness the lives of elephants in the wild. Tourism activities are proven to bring considerable revenue for the government and the local population. In the past, the local tribes who inhabited southern Africa are also known to have been wearing an African elephant as animal mounts on the battlefield. But compared to Asian elephants, African elephants are relatively more difficult to tame.