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African Elephant

Loxodonta africana

Description - Other Names - Distribution - Taxonomy

African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) Silhouette

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Description

Elephant Bull © C Du Plessis

Elephants are found in various habitats - from coastal regions to lush woodlands - anywhere where there is sufficient food and water. They are quite sociable and are often found in herds of 10 - 20, sometimes even up to 50.

Elephant Cow and her calf © M WitneyElephants have a highly developed social order consisting of a leader which is normally female. This matriarch is the most experienced and often the oldest in the herd. Bulls of various ages are found in the group and can be distinguished from cows by their rounded forehead, whereas the cow has an angular forehead. Tusks are found in both male and females. They use their tusks for digging and fighting.

Elephants move about rather quietly and cover about 10km in an hour. When defending their territory or young, they can reach speeds above 40km/h while in full charge.

Elephants spend most of the day (between 16 and 18 hours) eating. They travel long distances in search of food and eat between 180 and 270 kg of food per day.

Bulls reach puberty between 10 - 12 years; it is then that they leave the herd, often to be chased out by older cows. Females have a gestation period of 22 months after which they give birth to a single calf.

Other Names

Distribution

Distribution map of the African Elephant
Distribution map
of the
African Elephant

Taxonomy

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