Image courtesy Elephants Alive
DID YOU KNOW?
Elephants have the longest pregnancies of almost 2 years!
The African elephant is the largest land animal on Earth today and the Asian elephant is Asia’s largest land animal. Their size gives them an advantage of not having any natural predators except the Bengal tiger (who usually only attack the babes), lions and hyenas.
Their herds consist of related females and the oldest elephant is known as the “matriarch”. In contrast, the males choose to be alone once they are mature. Elephants are known for their excellent memories which comes in handy during times of dry conditions, when water is not easily available. In these situations, the matriarch has been known to lead her herd to a watering hole great distances away, remembering the water source from many years ago.
Elephants have played an important role in Asian culture for centuries. From the Hindu God who has an elephant’s head, Ganesha, who is worshiped in temples, to being the state symbol of Kerala in India, they continue to be celebrated in Asia where they represent wisdom. Sadly, in certain places, they may be illegally taken from the wild and brought into city limits to be placed near temples during certain festivities (Gods in Shackles).
The Asian elephant is currently listed as endangered and the African elephant as vulnerable.
It is estimated that less than 50,000 Asian elephants are still alive. Habitat loss remains to be the greatest threat to both these great giants as their homes are being cleared to grow crops and for urban development of people. Their ivory tusks are another major threat to them. The males, whose ivory tusks are easily seen, are in danger of being killed for them (the females’ tusks are less visible). This has caused the male to female ratio to suffer with not enough males in the population for them to recover and thrive properly. These magnificent animals once roamed across most of Asia’s dense forests, but today live in a small part of what was once their homes.
A New Baby Elephant Is Greeted With Great Excitement
For 20 years, Elephants Alive has been studying elephants, to ensure their survival, and to promote harmony with humans. They work in the greater Kruger region, monitoring elephants across South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. They have collared 80 elephants and created a database of 1,500 individual elephants – to understand their movements and population dynamics, and now to identify poaching hotspots. To prevent elephants from damaging iconic trees, and vulture nests, they research whether bee hives act as deterrents - elephants don’t like bees! To improve relations between elephants and people, they also run programs with local schools.
Our allies at Elephants Alive suggest that the following actions can help protect the elephants:
- Don't buy ivory products,
Do not ride or pet elephants at elephant encounter "tourist facilities" in Africa - and ask your friends to avoid these activities.
Write to your local politician to express your concern about the ivory trade and any unsustainable use practices.
Explain to your friends and children why it is important to protect elephants.