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    African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

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    sesrocker
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    African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

    Post by sesrocker on April 26th 2009, 23:27



    Scientific Name: Loxodonta africana
    Size: Up to 11 feet
    Weight: 31/2 - 61/2 tons (7,000 13,200 lb)
    Lifespan: 60 to 70 years
    Habitat: Dense forest to open plains
    Diet: Herbivorous
    Gestation: About 22 months
    Predators: Humans

    Physical Characteristics
    Their trunk serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging. Elephants are right or left-tusked, using the favored tusk more often, thus shortening it from constant wear. Tusks differ in size, shape and angle and researchers can use them to identify individuals.

    Habitat
    Their ideal habitat consists of plentiful grass and browse.

    Behavior
    Family groups are often visited by mature males, who check for females in estrus. Several interrelated family groups may inhabit an area and know each other well. When they meet at watering holes and feeding places, they greet each other affectionately.

    Communication
    Smell is the most highly developed sense, but sound deep growling or rumbling noises is the principle means of communication. Sometimes elephants communicate with an ear-splitting blast when in danger or alarmed, causing others to form a protective circle around the younger members of the family group. Elephants make low-frequency calls, many of which, though loud, are too low for humans to hear. These sounds allow elephants to communicate with one another at distances of five or six miles.

    Reproduction
    Usually only one calf is born to a pregnant female. An orphaned calf will usually be adopted by one of the family's lactating females or suckled by various females. Elephants are very attentive mothers, and because most elephant behavior has to be learned, they keep their offspring with them for many years. Tusks erupt at 16 months but do not show externally until 30 months. The calf suckles with its mouth, not trunk. When its tusks are 5 or 6 inches long, they begin to disturb the mother and she weans it. Once weaned usually at age 4 or 5, the calf still remains in the maternal group.

    Diet
    Elephants consume about 5% of their body weight and drink 30-50 gallons of water per day. They eat an extremely varied vegetarian diet including grass, leaves, twigs, bark, fruit and seed pods.

    Predators and Threats
    Today, it is difficult for elephants to live outside protected parks as they are pressured by poachers and by the habitat loss that comes with increasing human settlement.

      Current date/time is October 18th 2017, 07:19