Amazing elephant facts

Elephants are such majestic and amazing animals. Here are some facts that you might not have known.

  • 60 years is the average lifespan of an African elephant.
  • The left ear of the African elephant almost looks like the shape of Africa, while the Asian elephant’s left ear is similar to the shape of India.
  • Tusk length of an African elephant is on average between 1.5 – 2.5m.
  • The average African elephant weighs 6,500kg and is on average 3.8m heigh.
  • The African elephant’s top speed is 40km/h.
  • African elephants have been migrating for generations to find water and food. Their routes have been passed down from generation to generation.
  • Elephants love water and love to play in the water to cool down.

Three species

There are three recognised species of elephant in the world, namely the African savannah (bush), African forest and Asian elephants. Asian elephants have three subspecies – Sumatran, Indian and Sri Lankan elephants.

The Asian elephant is much smaller than the African elephant, and the difference is clearly visible in the head sizes and shapes of the elephants.

Smart, very smart

Of all land animals, elephants have the largest brains. It is believed that an elephant is as intelligent as a dolphin. It is also common knowledge that elephants can remember migrating routes to find water and food. One of the reasons why elephants get into so much trouble with farmers is that the farmers have planted crops where the elephants have walked for generations.

Elephants also remember other elephants, and will often meet up at drinking holes for a quick ‘chat’ and then part ways again. And when a relative dies, they will mourn and try to bury that elephant.

Mammoth relatives

Yes, mammoths and elephants are related. In fact, they share 95-99.9% of their DNA. There are a few obvious differences between today’s elephants and the extinct mammoths. Mammoths’ bodies were much bigger than elephants’, and their tusks were also much bigger. Woolly mammoths had thick fur, whereas elephants have fine hair that covers their bodies.

 

Top tip: If you see an elephant in the wild, keep your distance. Unless you know and understand  elephant behaviour, and can recognise when they’re about to charge, it is best to give them some space.

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