10 cool things about elephants

Elephants are easily recognisable – everybody knows what an elephant looks like. Although they are huge, they camouflage in the bush and you won’t even know they are there. Let’s find out what else is cool about these animals.

1. Humanlike

Elephants are a lot like humans. They feel remorse and even ask for a shoulder to cry on in times of need. When someone in the herd dies, they have a small ceremony for her. When they return to the location after years, they can even recognise the bones of their fellow member. They also possess an amazing cognitive map. This allows them to remember places they’ve been, as well as navigate their surroundings.

2. Various ways of communication

This intelligent species is able to communicate in various ways. An elephant can purr like a cat and make noises similar to that of a human crying. Adult elephants slap calves with their trunks, as well as kick and shove, to discipline them.

3. Vulnerable species

There are only two types of elephants in the world today: the African elephant and the Asian elephant. It’s speculated that many years ago there were more than 500 species of elephants. In 1989 African elephants were added to the international list of most endangered species. At that time 600,000 remained. Today there’s only an estimated 415,000 African elephants alive.

4. Multiple uses

An elephant’s trunk has over 40,000 muscles and is boneless. Their trunks are used for almost everything, from comforting others to playing pranks. The most common functions for their trunks are eating and drinking water. They can also be seen picking flowers for calves and reaching for the highest leaves on a tree.

5. Farting away

Adult elephants spend most of their day walking around and eating. It’s no wonder they usually eat around 90 to 270kg of food in a day. An elephant farts so much in a day that if we were to harvest the energy of it, we would be able to power a car for 32km. Also, an elephant produces more than 130kg of faeces in a day.

6. Mama’s got this

Elephant herds are matriarchal, which means that a female elephant is in charge. In the herd, the oldest elephant cow gets the reins. They are one of the few animal species that have a female as the leader. Other animals that are also matriarchal include killer whales, honeybees, spotted hyenas, meerkats and lemurs.

7. What a way to keep cool

The most common way of distinguishing an African elephant from an Asian elephant is the shape of their ears. The African elephant has larger ears, shaped like the continent where they’re found: Africa. Their ears aren’t just good for identification purposes. Elephants use their ears to cool down. They flap them to create wind, and a series of blood vessels in the ears give off body heat.

8. You can’t hear them, but they can hear you

For these huge mammals to be on their feet the whole day, they would need some sort of way to handle the weight. The bottom of an elephant’s feet is covered in a soft padding that’s able to support her size. Which means that an elephant walks almost noiselessly. Not only that, but they’re also able to listen with their feet. They can pick up vibrations made by other elephants that are transferred through the ground.

9. My, what big teeth

Elephants’ tusks are one of their most well-known features. These tusks are elongated incisor teeth and one-third of the tusks are hidden within the elephant’s head. Their tusks are connected with a sensitive tissue, which is called pulp. They use their tusks for multiple things, like lifting logs, stripping bark, digging and also fighting. The average length for an African elephant’s tusk is around 2m. The longest recorded tusk measured in at 3.48m.

10. The largest land mammal

The average height of an African elephant bull is up to 3.3m and he can weigh up to six tonnes. Female African elephants grow up to 2.8m in height and weigh up to three tonnes. They usually live for 60 to 70 years in the wild.