Elephants are easily recognizable, thanks to their big ears and long trunks. An interesting fact about elephants is that in spite of their weight (which is a lot), they can be very fast and swift. In the forest, healthy adult elephants are the only animals that lions are hesitant to attack.
Elephants are present all throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. Due to the variation in their habitat, their diet also differs. They are known to consume several pounds of vegetation daily and feed for 16 hours or maybe more.
As elephants are both grazers and browsers, it becomes easy for them to locate food. They can feed on plants of any size, right from grass up to trees.
African elephant consuming leaves
African elephant drinking water
In the Wild
In captivity, the diet of elephants needs to be watched carefully. The handlers need to be careful not to feed the elephants too much or too little food, which can make the animals either obese or undernourished.
✦ There are only 3 species of elephants still surviving: the African bush elephants, the African forest elephants, and the Asian or Indian elephants. There are many facts about African elephants that distinguish the African bush from the African forest elephants. All the other species are extinct. Some are extinct since the last ice age.
✦ Elephants are mainly threatened by human invasion and poaching. It is the loss of habitat that has mainly caused a further reduction in their numbers. Elephants require huge areas of forest land so that they can take down trees for their food. They then leave the place and come back once it is re-vegetated.
✦ Due to the lack of availability of these large land areas, several conflicts occur between human beings and elephants. These conflicts lead to loss of lives on both sides and more elephants as compared to humans lose their lives.
✦ Elephants have a very good memory. They can remember incidents for their entire life and recall them in an instant.
✦ Their trunks are multipurpose in nature. They use their trunks for respiration, smelling, hearing via vibrations, and as a hand. Often, they are also seen rubbing their eyes or grabbing food with their trunks.
✦ These mammals are great as warring animals. They have high energy levels, and due to their weight and size, they can prove to be very useful in warfare. In fact, in the Indian subcontinent, China and Persia, they were used as a king's ride. It is a known fact that elephants in their element can cause major damage to infantry, and cavalry horses fear them greatly.
✦ Elephants are known to have a very bad temper when provoked. In their anger, they can cause massive destruction.
✦ These animals uproot trees, and this leads to growth of new trees and more vegetation. In dry seasons, they use their tusks to dig holes and expose underground water.
✦ Their teeth don't grow vertically from the gums. In fact, they grow from the back end of the jaw and get pushed forward as new teeth grow. When they come up to the front, they fall off. Elephants have around 5 or 6 cycles for tooth generation.
✦ They mostly die due to starvation. When they are really old, they do not have teeth. Hence, they cannot eat and starve to death.
✦ Elephants are extremely wise and intelligent animals. In fact, their intelligence can be compared to that of primates. Their brain weighs about 5 kg. They can feel grief, make music, and play with and use tools. They have very high altruistic emotions and infant care (even if it is not their own infant) abilities as well.
✦ They share the same ancestry as mammoths. In fact, many believe that the evolution of elephants has been from mammoths.
These animals do not get to sleep much because they move over great distances while searching for the large quantities of food that is needed to maintain their massive bodies.