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Taxonomy (SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Proboscidea (Trunked mammals)
FAMILY: Elephantidae (Elephants and mammoths)
African Savannah Elephant- Loxodonta africana
African Forest Elephant- Loxodonta cyclotis
Asian Elephant- Elephas maximus
Subspecies of Asian Elephants
Indian Elephant- Elephas maximus indicus
Sri Lankan Elephant- Elephas maximus maximus
Sumatran Elephant- Elephas maximus sumatranus
Borneo Pygmy Elephant (possible subspecies)- Elephas maximus borneensis
LIFE SPAN: African Elephants can live up to 70 years in the wild. Asian Elephants can live up to 60 years in the wild.
HABITAT: African Elephants live in sub-Saharan Africa, the rain forests of central and West Africa, and the Sahel desert in Mali. Asian Elephants live in Nepal, India and in the scrub and rain forests of Southeast Asian countries such as China, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
DIET: Elephants are herbivores (vegetation eaters) who eat grasses, fruits, roots, and bark. Elephants travel great distances looking for food and water, and they can eat up to 300 pounds of food and drink up to 50 gallons of water in one day!
A male Elephant is called a bull
A female Elephant is called a cow
A young Elephant is called a calf
A group of Elephants is called a herd
African Elephants are the largest land mammals on Earth.
Elephants are social animals that live in small family groups, usually made up of an older matriarch (dominant mother figure) and several generations of female relatives. Male Elephants normally live by themselves, but they can also live in small groups of three to four bulls. Elephants care for weak or injured members, and they even seem to mourn the death of other Elephants.
Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all mammals, carrying their young for 22 months before giving birth!
The ears of African Elephants resemble the continent of Africa, and the ears of Asian Elephants are smaller and more rounded.
Elephants have about 150,000 muscles in their trunk- 230 times more than a human has in their entire body!
Elephants can communicate with each other using low-frequency calls than can travel over large distances. Two-thirds of these calls are sent out at a frequency below the range of human hearing
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the conservation status of Elephants are as follows:
African Elephants are vulnerable, which means that they may become endangered if their circumstances don’t improve.
Poaching for ivory is the major threat to the survival of African Elephants. Poachers kill African Elephants for the ivory in their tusks. The ivory is made into many items such as jewelry and religious objects and then sold. While there are an estimated 450,000-650,000 African Elephants currently living in the wild, at the current rates of poaching, African Elephant populations may not survive 10 more years in the wild!
Additionally, African Elephants are threatened by the rapid growth of humans in areas inhabited by them. This is bringing about habitat loss, population fragmentation, and is also increasing the number conflicts between humans and African Elephants.
Asian Elephants are endangered, which means that there is a very high risk of them becoming extinct in the wild.
Loss of habitat is the major threat that Asian Elephants are facing. Approximately 20 percent of the world’s human population lives in or near the present habitat of Asian Elephants. This population of humans is experiencing a 3 percent growth and could double in 23 years. This increase in population among neighboring humans has resulted in a drastic reduction of the Asian Elephants’ forest home and has caused populations of Asian Elephants to become fragmented.
There are an estimated 25,600-32,750 Asian Elephants currently living in the wild, and their numbers are said to be dropping.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP ELEPHANTS?
Educate yourself about Elephants and their circumstances by reviewing the materials presented below in the Resources section and other materials you may be able to find on your own.
Post messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and send emails to your family and friends expressing your concern for the plight of the Elephants and encouraging them to become involved as well.
Write letters to your elected officials in Washington DC and to leaders in nations where Elephants live explaining why the conservation of Elephants is important to you and encouraging these officials to work to help keep Elephants from ever becoming extinct in the wild.
Help to improve the environment around you and around the world by working to reduce, recycle, and reuse. This will help eliminate waste and will greatly improve the world in which we all live.
And when you shop at Joe’s Cowtown Photos, you can designate Elephant-centric programs and initiatives such as the International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt an Elephant Program, the International Elephant Foundation, and Fauna and Flora International’s efforts on behalf of Elephants as the beneficiary of the charitable portion of your purchase. (For more information on Joe’s Cowtown Photos charitable giving program, Cowtown Photos Cares!, click here.)
Mother Nature Network: 12 Animals with the largest gestation period
Smithsonian.com: 14 Fun Facts About Elephants
Fauna and Flora International’s African Elephant page
The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species African Elephant Page
The IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species Asian Elephant Page
National Geographic.com’s African Elephant Page
National Geographic.com’s Asian Elephant Page
Live Science: Facts about Elephants
African Wildlife Foundation’s Elephant page
The International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF)
International Elephant Foundation.org
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee page
The World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt an African Elephant Page
The United States House of Representatives Page
The information provided in this Animal Info page was compiled by Joe Hoffman (St. Pius X Elementary School Class of 1986 and Founder/Owner of Joe’s Cowtown Photos) and was proof-read and edited by Anita Striegel (Retired 8th Grade Teacher from St. Pius X Elementary School- Joe’s former teacher!)
To access the Animal Info main page, click here!