The elephant species are the world’s largest herbivores. Separated into two groups, African and Asian elephants are largely similar however, there are minor differences. The African elephants’ ears are large and shaped almost like the African continent, which act as a cooling mechanism in the heat of Africa. The Asian elephants’ ears are much smaller and rounder, this is appropriate because they live in jungles and do not need to cool off from the sun.
My trunk is the most sensitive organ in my body, containing around 150 000 muscle units. While it is strong enough to tear a branch off a tree, I can also use it to pick up a single blade of grass due to its sensitivity. We use our trunks to drink, communicate, to defend ourselves, as a snorkel when swimming, to eat (which we do for up to 16 hours per day) and more. It is my most instrumental feature. My thick and wrinkly skin is not due to old age, but it helps me cool down in the heat. To protect myself from the sun I also take sand or mud-baths. I am known for my human-like intelligence and good sensing. My memory is remarkable, and I never forget things, faces, scents etc. Be sure to keep that in mind! Unlike many animals our hippocampus (which controls emotions) is highly developed. This enables us to relate to our families, other species, and humans with empathy. When we identify any elephant carcasses, we grieve or pay our respects. We can also identify a person’s age and gender based on the sound of their voice. We communicate through body language, scent, touch and through seismic signals (creating vibrations in the ground and detecting them through our bones). We spend most of our days eating and traveling in herds. We don’t get much sleep but when we do, we sleep standing upright.
‘Elephant’ comes from the Greek word ‘Elephas’ meaning ivory, which is ironically the main part of their bodies causing them to go extinct. 90% of elephants have been wiped out in the past century, leaving merely 400 000 out of 12 million. To Wild and Free, and the rest of the world, this a global crisis as elephants assist both humans and other species. Elephants fight climate change by scattering seeds and planting trees during their travels, they aid other species by digging up waterholes; fertilising land and pushing over trees to maintain savanna ecosystems. By protecting elephants, we are ensuring the future of the earth and saving other species.
Wild and Free Foundation is a non-profit organization. We are dedicated to finding and implementing holistic conservation strategies for the benefit of wildlife and for the benefit of local communities.