10 Interesting facts about Elephants

Our EcoTraining unfenced bush camps are located in remote areas of beautiful concessions and game reserves. As such, our instructors and students are fortunate enough to experience frequent encounters with elephants, whether it be in camp or out in the wild.

Living and training in deep nature require a heightened situational awareness since we are traversing in their habitat on foot or in game drives. Our students are taught how to read and interpret elephant behaviour through signs indicated by their body language. Boundaries are important and through observation and focused training we are able to truly learn a lot about these majestic animals.

(c) Etienne Oosthuizen

We chose a few interesting facts about elephants we think you might enjoy:

  • There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and the forest and savannah elephant species in Africa.
  • The largest elephant ever recorded was an African elephant. It was 10,886 kg and 3.96 m tall from its feet to its shoulders.
  • An elephant’s trunk has more than 100,000 muscles, according to National Geographic. They use it to breathe, pick things up and make noises, drink and smell.
  • In the same way that humans tend to be right-handed or left-handed, elephants can be right-tusked or left-tusked. Their dominant tusk is easy to identify because it will be more worn down than the less dominant tusk, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

(c) Willie van Eeden

  • Elephant females can have babies (calf’s) until they are about 50 years old. They tend to have a new baby every 2,5 to 4 years. They usually have one baby and twins are very rare.
  • The elephant’s gestation period is 22 months – longer than any other land animal in the world. A newborn human baby weighs an average of 3 kilograms (7 pounds) while a newborn elephant baby can weigh up to 118 kilograms (260 pounds)! The baby can stand up shortly after being born.

(c) Willie van Eeden

  • Stories of African elephants getting drunk from the fermented marula fruit are not true. The animals don’t eat the fruit off the ground where it ferments, and even if they did, it would take about 1,400 pieces to get one elephant drunk.
  • Although the elephant trunk is really huge, weighing about 181 kilograms (400 pounds), it is so dexterous it can pick up very tiny things including a single grain of rice. The elephant’s trunk is a fusion of its nose and upper lip. It is the elephant’s most important limb.
  • The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily with other males.
  • An elephant’s skin can be as thick as 1 inch, but it is sensitive to the sun. To protect it, elephants will cover themselves in mud or dust.

(c) Willie van Eeden

We are extremely lucky to witness these gentle giants in their natural environment on a regular basis. Their (usually) calm demeanour and family values are something to look up to… No wonder they are called nature’s Gentle Giants.

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