FUN ELEPHANT FACTS
Who doesn’t love elephants and want to know some cool elephant facts? First, they are the largest land animal on the planet weighing an average of 12,000 pounds. Second, there are 2 main species, African and Asian. And each looks very different.
The African elephants are larger, with tusks on both males and females. Asian elephants have much smaller bodies and ears and tusks only grow on males. And of course, they live in completely different environments. African elephants live on the hot plains of Africa and the Asian elephants live in the cooler jungles of Asia.
And a third cool fact, elephants can hear with their feet. They communicate danger by low rumbling which can be picked up by other elephants up to 6 miles away. Special nerve endings in the feet help them hear in addition to using their ears.
All elephants are highly intelligent and social animals with the females often living in the same herd for 60-70 years. But one weird elephant fact is they are terrified of bees. Little bees. The good news is bees are being used to minimize elephant human conflict. By stringing up beehives around crops, farmers can keep the elephants from destroying their fruits and vegetables. Plus they can sell the honey made by the bees as a bonus.
And in the final elephant fact category, elephants are a keystone species, helping maintain the balance of the ecosystem in which they live. They disperse seeds extensively, with one study showing a single elephant can spread the seeds of 96 plants over a 35-mile radius helping biodiversity in the forest.
ELEPHANTS ARE DECLINING
African elephant populations have declined by 30% over the last 10 years with only about 415,000 left in the wild. And the population of Asian elephants is lower with only 30,000-50,000 left. The biggest threat: poachers killing the animals for their ivory tusks. The ivory is then used for jewelry, sculpture, and ornaments.
However, there is good news with poaching down significantly over the last few years. More & more countries are banning the sale of ivory (or elephant tusks) which has reduced some poaching.
OUR EXPERIENCE WITH ELEPHANTS
While both Dale and I have traveled to Africa before we met, we went to Kenya last year to learn more about conservation in Africa. The highlight of our trip was visiting an elephant orphanage. The David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is just outside Nairobi, Kenya. For an hour, we got to play with 18 baby elephants. One of the most inspiring experiences of our lifetime.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
What can we do, especially living so far away? You can support international wildlife groups, especially The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which operates the baby elephant (and rhino) orphanage. Give an orphan adoption as a gift to a family member or friend. We guarantee it will be one of the best gifts they will ever receive.
Or get involved with a zoo that practices conservation. Join a zoo and learn all you can about elephants. As lifetime members of the NC Zoo, we love to visit their African elephants and also learn about their work with Asian elephants in Vietnam. Proceeds from the sale of Dale’s elephant sculpture, “Fractured Existence” were donated to the zoo for their elephant enrichment program.