Tuesday, October 4, 2016


There has been a lot of talk online recently about the Elephant, and this week I’m going to add some information to the mix. My purpose in writing blog posts is to provide tidbits of data and create enough curiosity in my readers that they may be intrigued enough to go out and learn more. My hope is that my readers may be inspired to do something about endangered animals – seek out valid organizations that can help. This magnificent animal is one of my favorites, and I am afraid that humans will be their demise. We have to step up to the plate and help in any way we can.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Let’s start with a staggering quote from a scientist: “There are about 25 to maybe 35 thousand African Elephants every year that are getting killed for their tusks.” (M. Sanjayan, Senior Scientist at Conservations International) This is a startling statement, and a sad one, but it’s true. Unless we face the truth, we will never be able to do something about it.

The world’s largest land animal is intelligent, sensitive, and social. It is an iconic symbol of unassailable strength and survival. The Elephant has played a prominent role in African and Indian mythology and culture. It is a part of our literary heritage, representing the wise and irrefutable peacemaker, the settler of disputes. I for one would not like to see the Elephant disappear from the wild.

According to the IUCN*, the African Elephant is vulnerable, and its worst enemy is greed. The Asian Elephant, according to the IUCN*, is endangered and its main threat is a combination of habitat destruction and poaching, again, human greed. From what I have read, poaching in Africa has reached unusually high levels. Authorities there have not seen amounts this high in more than thirty years. We must recognize that the African problem is a complex one, and we cannot fully cover its intricacies here, but suffice it to say that there are some organizations that are attempting to protect the Elephant and to make it unprofitable to trade their tusks.  To read more about the illegal wildlife trade, which includes Elephants, you can visit this site: https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-wildlife-trade.

Let’s talk about Elephants in more general terms. There is the African Elephant, which consists of two species, the Savannah Elephant and the Forest Elephant. And there is the Asian Elephant or Asiatic Elephant. It’s easy to tell the African Elephant from its Asian cousin by looking at their ears. The ears and tusks of the African Elephant are much larger than that of the Asian Elephant.

The Asian Elephant has much smaller ears than its African cousin.

Let’s look at a few comparisons between the Asian and African Elephants.

6.5 to 11.5 Feet
11 Feet
+- 6,000 pounds
+- 18,000 pounds
21 Feet
19-24 Feet

Photo Credit: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/elephant/Elephantcoloring.shtml

The above picture shows the tips of the trunks. The trunk on the left, marked “A,” is that of the Asian Elephant, and one the right, “B,” is the African Elephant. At the end of an Elephant’s trunk is a physical attribute, or tip, which is commonly referred to as a ‘finger’ or ‘fingers’ in the case of the African Elephant. The African Elephant can use these two 'fingers' to pinch and pick up objects. The Asian Elephant cannot do that. Instead, he wraps the object with his trunk.

Asian Elephants live in Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Bangladesh, and southern China.

Photo Credit: http://www.hannahandhersisters.com/leah/Elephants.html

The below map shows the distribution of the African Elephant.

Let’s meet a baby Elephant named Maya, and learn a little about her first days with her Mom and the Elephant herd.

In this video, we travel with a photographer who has 20 years of experience photographing and filming the Elephants. Enjoy!

As I said, Elephants are the largest land animal. The African Elephant, the largest of the three species, can weigh as much as 16,000 pounds. Its head makes up 25% of its total body weight. The African Forest Elephant and the Asian Elephant weigh in at about 6,000 pounds.

So why can’t they jump? Well, first of all, they are very heavy and have relatively weak leg muscles. Also, unlike other animals, even rhinos and hippos, Elephants never have all four feet off the ground at any moment. But no matter, Elephants have other qualities, qualities that once we know about them will only serve to heighten our interest in them. For example, Elephants live in a matriarchal society; they are highly emotional, devoted and intelligent. We should be able to identify with them because their brains work much like our own. They actually have three times as many neurons in their brains as we do. When we say they lack only a voice, that is an understatement. We cannot understand their vocal tones, which combine to form a very extensive ‘language’ they use to communicate with one another.

If you would like to learn more about the Elephant, visit these sites:

To learn more about the Asian Elephant, go to this site: http://a-z-animals.com/animals/asian-elephant/.

Thank you for visiting and please stop by again next week for another 'unusual animal’ post. Thank you very much for spending some time thinking about the incredible mammal and if you have enjoyed your visit, please share it with someone you know.

*IUCN = International Union for Conservation of Literature 

Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza, The Gift of Sunderland, and
One Hot Mess, A Child's Environmental Fable 
Children's Edutainment, Where Endangered Animals Heroes Roam the Pages!

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