Elephants are among the mammals that warm our hearts. There are two types of species. There is the African elephant and the Asian elephant. In this post, we focus on the African elephant. These are the largest mammals on earth. They are larger compared to Asian elephants. Compared to Asian elephants, African elephants have larger ears. Over a long time, they have been identified as one species. But they have been separated into two. There is a savanna elephant found in sub-Saharan Africa. Then, there is a forest elephant found in West and Central Africa. Both species are endangered. These animals play several roles in society. They dig water holes in dry riverbeds. Many other animals get to drink water from these holes. They spread plants through their dung. They also attract tourists. But what are 5 interesting facts about elephants? Here, we look at 5 fascinating facts about the African elephant.
- They have the longest gestation period
The gestation period is the time between conception and birth. For example, in humans, the gestation period is about 40 weeks. In the animal kingdom, African elephants have the longest gestation period. It takes up to 22 months for an African elephant to give birth. This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about the African elephant. It is a longer period compared to other animals. Asian elephants can take about 18 months between conception and giving birth. Other larger animals such as giraffes and rhinos take about 13 and 18 months. In most cases, these elephants give birth to one calf. But in rare cases, an African elephant can give birth to twins. At birth, baby elephants are big. They can weigh up to 268 pounds. The babies can stand about 3 feet tall. You can imagine how dangerous it can be to carry twins.
- They can communicate privately across distances
You can hear their trumpet-like calls from a distance. Based on this, we can say that African elephants are among the loudest wild animals. But did you know we can’t hear some of the sounds that they make? This is one of the African bush elephant fun facts. They make sounds that can communicate up to 5 km that we cannot hear. These sounds are known as infrasound. They keep in touch with elephants that are kilometers away using these sounds.
- They spend most of their time feeding
African elephants are herbivorous. They eat herbs, roots, grasses, plants, and other vegetation. We can say, they stick with a vegetarian diet. One of the 5 fascinating facts about the African elephant is that they spend more time eating. They spend about 18 hours feeding every day. This means that they spend about 80% of their time every day feeding. Their favorite food is tree bark. The barks contain calcium and roughage. This is good for digestion. Because of their large body, elephants need large amounts of food. One elephant can eat about 300 pounds of food every day. To supplement their diet, elephants drink a lot of water. They can take about 200 liters per day. They use trunks to drink water. The trunk can grasp, touch, and smell.
- They are matriarchal
This is one of the 5 fascinating facts about the African elephant. Elephants live in families known as herds. The herds are mostly made of related offspring and females. Adult males also known as bulls live alone. When the males become adults, they leave their families. The largest and oldest female elephant is left in charge of the family. She is known as the matriarch. She plays several roles. She keeps away other females and babies from danger. She teaches females how to be good mothers. This is one of the African bush elephant fun facts. It is similar to how elderly humans guide other new or young mothers. The matriarch shows family members where to find food and water. When she dies, the oldest daughter becomes the leader.
- They are empathetic
African elephants are empathetic. This means that they can sense the emotions of others. They understand what others are feeling. This is another fascinating fact about the African elephant. They recognize sadness and pain and respond to them. For example, they know when another elephant is injured and in pain. In response, they slow down to avoid leaving the animal behind.
When an elephant is dying, they call out in distress. They try to lift them using their tusks and trunks. They share hugs when feeling down. This is the same way we hug each other to feel better. Yes, they are the largest in the animal kingdom. But they feel stressed and scared. In response, they use their trunks to stroke the stressed animal and give comfort.
African elephants also mourn. They pose when they come across a dead elephant. This can last for several minutes. During this time, they will touch and smell the dead bodies. They have also been seen covering the dead body with branches.
In this post, we have looked at 5 fascinating facts about the African elephant. There is a lot to learn and love about African elephants. You can spot them during an African Safari. You can see them in Kenya and most African countries. You can spot them in national parks such as Masai Mara.