|Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz|
Essentially an animal of open grasslands, the African elephant is adaptable enough to live happily in a variety of habitats within it sub-Saharan African homeland. But wherever it lives, the elephant never strays far from a supply of drinking and bathing water.
Elephants are social animals with strong family ties. So close are the relationships that they even bury their dead with twigs and leaves. They also grieve over their loss, staying the the "grave" for many hours.
Cows (females) and their calves live in family units under the leadership of a mature female, to whom every other member of the group is related.
Young bulls (males) are driven from the family when they reach puberty to live in separate bachelor herds. Adult bulls live alone and join a family unit only briefly when a female is ready to mate.
Elephants are entirely vegetarian. They eat a wide variety of grasses, foliage, fruit, and small branches and twigs. They gather food with the aid of their trunk and then place it into their mouths.
Elephants have gigantic appetites. Night, early morning, and evening are their favorite eating and drinking times, but they also eat all day on the move.
Did you know?
- Elephants will eat up to 500 pounds of vegetation a day and drink up to 40 gallons of water at a time.
- When water is scarce during the dry season, elephants will dig for water in the sandy bed of a river that has stopped flowing.
- The largest tusk ever recorded was 10 feet long and weight nearly 230 pounds.