ANIMALS A - Z

African Elephant Facts


Loxodonta africana

 
As the worlds' largest land mammal, the African elephant has the longest gestation period of 22 months.
 
The elephants trunk has more than 50 000 muscles! It takes an elephant calf up to 2 years to learn how to use its trunk properly.
 
African elephants are very capable of swimming and enjoy it very much. They will often totally submerge under water and use their trunks as snorkels.
 
Elephants don't have sweat glands but instead use their ears to regulate body temperature.
 
The elephants ears have a complex network of very fine blood vessels that are sensitive to temperature. When it is hot the elephant will flap its ears to cool down the blood in the ears which in turn drops the temperature of the elephants body.They will also throw mud and water onto their ears to help cool the ears down.
 
Elephants have a very inefficient digestive systems and are forced to spend most of the day feeding. In the drier moths they will spend as much as 16 hours a day feeding.
 
An adult male elephant will eat as much as 200kg (440 pounds) and drink as much as 180 litres (47 gallons) of water a day!
 
During an elephants lifetime they grow 6 sets of molars. Once the last set has worn through from all the feeding, the elephants' condition gradually deteriorates as it is not be able to chew its food properly and eventually dies from malnutrition.
 
The average lifespan of an elephant is 60 - 65 years. In areas where the vegetation is soft or there is an abundance of grass elephants can live up to 75 years, these elephants live longer as their last set of molars last longer due to less damage from the softer vegetation.
 
The oldest African elephant recorded lived to 82 years.
 
The average adult female weighs about 4000kg (8800 pounds) with the average male weighing about 5000kg (11 pounds) Very large bulls will weigh as much as 6500kg (14300 pounds).
 
The wold record heaviest elephant, which was shot in 1974 in Angola apparently weighed over 12 tonnes. This record is highly unlikely as it would be almost double the weight of the largest elephants found on earth today.
 
The longest tusks recorded were from an elephant shot by Major Powel-Cotton, the tusks measure 3.48 and 3.35 meters (11ft 5in and 11ft)!

More African Elephant Photos