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Elephant: Webster's definition
el.e. phant \'el-*-f*nt\ n [ME, fr. OF & L; OF olifant, fr. L elephantus, fr. Gk elephant-)X, elephas : any of various thickset mostly very large nearly hairless four- footed mammals constituting with related extinct forms the elephant family ( Elephantidae) and having the snout prolonged into a muscular trunk and two incisors in the upper jaw developed esp. in the male into long tusks which furnish ivory; broadly: a related animal or fossil
AN ELEPHANT PRIMER:
REF: The Oakland Zoo
The adult male is much larger than the adult female. Head and body length including trunk: 19-24 feet. Shoulder height: 10-13 feet. Weight: 5.5 - 7 tons. Tail: 4 feet. Brownish gray skin has folds and may be one inch thick in places. The African Elephant has a marked dip between its fore and hindquarters giving a concave curvature to its back. Ears are large and fan-like. The trunk has two prehensile protrusions at the tip. Large tusks are present in both sexes. Elephants are digitigrade with pads of fibrous tissue to cushion toe bones.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Natural home range is 500 miles; migratory patterns are taught from one generation to the next. Now they are mostly restricted to parks and preserves. Habitat formerly was area south of the Sahara; agricultural expansion has severely reduced it. Highly adaptable, elephants can survive in forest, bush or savanna.
Elephants have an inefficient digestive system and digest only about 40 per cent of what they eat. They eat enormously. Estimates in the wild range from 100-1000 pounds of vegetation per day (a 16 hour period). Zoo elephants are estimated to eat approximately 50 pounds of food per ton of elephant per day. Working elephants need 300 to 600 pounds of food per day. The wild elephant is a destructive eater, uprooting and scattering as much as is eaten, often breaking down whole trees. Elephants eat almost anything green, but green grass, shoots and buds of trees and shrubs are preferred. Farms are often raided for fruits and vegetables of all types. Average daily consumption of water for full-grown animals is between 30 and 50 gallons.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Elephants live in a complex matriarchal society normally composed of 8 to 15 related members and led by a dominant cow. Three or four generations of cows and calves spend their entire lives together with the exception of males, who leave the group at puberty. Groups of related families stay in fairly close range of each other and communicate often; these are called kin groups. In times of danger, kin groups will mass and form clans of 200 or more. Ongoing studies at Amboseli Research Center in Kenya indicate a complex bull dominance structure which determines mating success as well as every day life. Another primary mating factor is musth, a periodic hormonal cycle seen in both species. Physical manifestations in males include heavy secretions from temporal glands, high blood testosterone levels, urine dribbling (marking) and aggression. Cows seem to prefer a musth bull, but can successfully breed whether the bull is in musth or not. The cow's oestrus cycle is roughly a monthly one and lasts 2-6 days. Gestation is approximately 22 months. The birth is usually a single one; twins are born only 1.35% of the time. Birth weight is 175 to 250 pounds. Mother is often assisted by another cow during birthing. The calf can stand shakily and nurse (with mouth, not trunk) a few hours after birth. Mammary glands are located between the front legs. Calves will nurse well into their third year and are very dependent on their mothers for eight to ten years. Adolescence at 12 to 14 years of age. Most physical growth is reached at 20, but growth continues throughout life. Top mental ability is at age 30 to 45. Death comes at 65 to 70 years of age when the last set of teeth wear out.
V. SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
The majority of the skull is honeycombed with sinuses to minimize weight. Tusks are elongated second upper incisors and grow throughout the lifetime. They are used for food gathering and carrying, as well as weapons. Molars make up other dental equipment; six consecutive sets of two upper and two lower molars are produced throughout life. The first set has three enamel layers, increasing to ten layers in the sixth set. The trunk is an elongation of the nose and upper lip; in adults it contains 40,000 to 100,000 muscles. Literally the animal's lifeline, it is used for eating, drinking, dust and water bathing, as well as communication. The sense of smell is highly sophisticated; they are believed to locate underground water by smelling the earth above. Vision is poor. Long lashes and nictitating lids protect the eyes from dust. Hearing is acute. Recent studies establish the use of infrasound (tones lower than humans can hear) for long-range communication. Ears are also used to control body temperature; blood circulating through the large vessels in the ears is cooled by flapping.
VI. INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Skin is extremely sensitive to sunburn and insect bites; they roll in dust and mud and throw dust on their backs to help protect their skin. Elephants have the largest brain size versus body weight other than man. New intelligence data: most mammals, excluding primates, are born with a brain weight of 90% of adult weight. A human brain at birth is 26% of adult weight, and the elephant's is 35% of adult weight. These statistics are used to distinguish instinctive from learned behavior, and are examples of higher intelligence.
VII. STATUS IN WILD:
Endangered because of loss of habitat and because of poaching for ivory.
Many of these off-site reference links are dead - no longer active.
I compiled them back in 2006 -- hoping they would be of interest to our readers.
I have found through the years, that it is really an impossible job to keep updating links from other sources.
For this reason I've largely stopped promoting off-site references across my 15,000 Webpages . . .
especially for those who haven't posted reciprocal links to our sites that have been active since 1996.
African Elephant Short overview provides details on this threatened species. Find the official scientific classification or the animal's benefit to humans.
African Elephant - Oakland Zoo California attraction gathers multimedia files on one of the best-loved animals in the park. See movie clips of a baby elephant, or hear sounds.
African Elephants Detailed summary offers an extensive profile of the species. Learn about the
amazing social behaviors this giant animal exhibits.
African Elephants - South Africa: Read an article about the elephants at Addo National Park in South Africa. See images, or read about the history of the preserve.
Aliya - Stories of the Elephants of Sri Lanka Book examines the paradox of the largest of land mammals surviving on the small island nation. Read book excerpts, or learn how to order a copy.
Animated Elephants Pachyderm nut presents a huge library of animated gifs featuring Jumbos and
Dumbos. View dozens of images, or import them for personal use.
Asian Elephant - Animal Diversity Web Scientific summary of one of the surviving species of this animal details its physical characteristics. Find notes on behavior and food habits.
Asian Elephant - WWF Quiz World Wildlife Fund posts a multiple choice quiz on the Asian elephant. Test knowledge of the species, or tackle other quizzes.
Asian Elephant Conservation Mobile Elephant Clinic Project plans to make house calls on the awesome creatures in Thailand. Find out how to support this charity.
Bringing Up Baby - Smithsonian Magazine Condensed version of a March 1997 article introduces readers to Daphne Sheldrick's elephant orphanage in Kenya. Read about her heroic efforts.
Care for the Wild - Elephants and Rhinos Foster parents "adopt" these gigantic bundles of joy by contributing money to this fund. Find out about the orphans at a Nairobi nursery.
Christy Williams' Elephant Page Researcher shares data on the Indian elephants found in the northeastern and northwestern parts of the country. View her original photographs.
CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species regulates trade of elephants and other animals. Look over official documents and texts.
Conserving Africa's Elephants World Wide Fund for Nature reports on the plight of the endangered species. See a map of Africa's protected areas, or read proposed actions.
David Sheldrick Trust Charity named for the famous naturalist aids Kenya's conservation effort. Read about elephant emotions, or learn about orphan "adoptions."
Denise's Elephant Page Fan of the majestic creature devotes a write-up to the beloved elephant. Read about the Asian Elephant Conservation Act, or check the links.
Discovery Online Field Notebook - Living with Elephants Cable channel unlocks the secrets of this awesome animal through a multimedia guide. See clips from the TV program, or read journal entries.
Elephant - Species at Risk Environmental charity singles out the African elephant as one of Earth's threatened species. Learn about the group's protection efforts.
Elephant Alliance California group monitors the conditions and treatment of circus elephants. See photos detailing the mistreatment and neglect of these animals.
Elephant Country Visit this tribute to the mighty mammal for quotes and a bibliography. View the
photos and drawings, or find out about the two species.
Elephant Friendly Page Short write-ups on the African and Indian elephants greet visitors to this resource. See a picture of two of the huge mammals meeting.
Elephant Jungle Swing over to this fan's reference source for elephant enthusiasts. Compare the two species, or learn why the population is dwindling.
Elephant Men - Wild Things Watch Indian elephants get their annual check-up from doctors trained to deal with disorders and maladies. Read over the report.
Elephant Miscellany Pachyderm fan provides a small collection of news and photos of the amazing
animal. Read a poem, or learn about elephant adoptions.
Elephant Nature Park Thailand park provides visitor information as well as a review of elephant anatomy and the current effort to preserve and replant the rainforest.
Elephant Polo - Wild Things View QuickTime highlights from a game that likely won't be seen on ESPN. Learn more about elephant polo's transformation from a joke to an event.
Elephant Sanctuary America's first natural habitat refuge provides a home for many aged or sick
pachyderms with nowhere else to go. Learn about the Tennessee spot.
Elephant Satellite Tracking in Malaysia Follow the movements of relocated and released elephants in Thailand and Malaysia, and investigate the technology that made the project possible.
Elephant WebRing List of 31 linked elephant sites.
Elephant World Zine chronicles the world's elephants in captivity and in the wild. See photos, or
access a small profile database for captive animals.
Elephanteria Kid-friendly guide also appeals to adult fans of the awesome creature. Find out
about the Elephant Appreciation Day, or view the gallery.
Elephants - Potomac Museum Group Touring museum exhibit offers a preview with a photo gallery of recent stops. Get detailed information and pictures of show components.
Elephants of Africa - Nature PBS series showcases the majestic mammal in its natural habitat. Learn about the ivory trade and poaching problem, or see when the program airs.
Elephants of Cameroon Join researchers on this expedition that studies interaction between humans and elephants in Cameroon. Read a diary, or listen to audio entries.
Ellie Relocation - Wild Things Syndicated television show tracks the relocation of the beasts from a South African national park. Watch videos of the complicated process.
First Contact - Wild Things Travel along with this adventure show that goes where the wild things are. View videos of a mountain bike safari group's elephant encounters.
Friends of the Asian Elephant Conservation group aims to support elephants via research and education. Learn about current projects and how to help.
Friends of the Elephant Small elephant preservation group looks to save the mammal from extinction. Find out about current projects, or fill out an application.
From the Land Beyond Amateur wildlife photographer Diane Ross displays photos from a Kenyan trip.Read her observations, or check out shots of other animals.
In the Wild Concise summary of the vanishing mammalian species. Learn why the great beast is endangered, and what is being done on the conservation front.
Introduction to the Proboscidea Zoological overview of the order includes descriptions of extinct creatures such as mastodons, as well as the endangered elephant.
MSN Encarta - Elephant Features details on this animal's habitat, life cycles, and scientific classification. Find links to related resources.
Phenomenon of Musth Austrian researcher studies the musth periods of male Vietnamese timber
elephants. Read about the phenomenon, see photos, or email the author.
Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary Arkansas preserve strives to aid the threatened species by taking them in and studying their reproduction. See photos of resident creatures.
Save The Elephants See how this organization aims to protect the African elephant through
community awareness amongst the Masai and projects such as green hunting.
Sissy's Elephant Page Animal-lover's shrine honors the largest land mammal. Read text from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, or listen to the call of an elephant.
Sri Lankan Elephant Wildlife enthusiast shares his attraction for the giant mammal. Includes his own
photographs, as well as news articles from Sri Lanka.
Tarangire Elephant Project Research program studies the habits and movement of African elephants in a Tanzanian national park. Read field updates, or adopt a creature.
Tembe Elephant Park Zululand reserve for the threatened African elephant hosts more than 100
creatures. Get directions to the park, or find rates for visitors.
Tina's Big Holiday Find out what an elephant packs on vacation at this chronicle of Tina's trip
outside a zoo. Read a diary of her excursion, or see photos.
US Code - Title 16, Chapter 62 Get the United States policy statement on African elephant conservation in black and white. Read about assistance relief and prohibition acts.
World Elephant Polo Association Official group promotes this strange, but true sport from Nepal. Read about the teams, see game photos from the championships, or read the rules.
WWF Conservation Issues - African Elephants Read an in-depth piece on the conservation efforts surrounding the dwindling population of African elephants. Explore suggested solutions.
The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
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