The bull elephant is the largest terrestrial animal, weighing a tremendous 6000 kilograms, and standing 3 meters high. They generally reach their full size at ages 35-40, halfway through their lifespan (60-70 years). Their tusks are large and grow 7 inches per year.
I am the largest of the big five, a gentle giant until I need to defend myself or my herd. I leave my mother’s herd between the ages of 12-15. When the time comes, I may join a male herd or venture out on my own. I begin traveling far and wide in search for food, water and a mate. Some of us are introverts and prefer traveling alone, while those within the male herd prefer to depend on one another. We tend to court females using rituals which involve different affectionate gestures and nuzzles. Once I have successfully mated, I stay with the cow elephant and guard her from other males.
While male elephants may not always have a mate, they still rely on bonding and need each other to survive therefore, male elephants stick together. Older males are role models to the younger ones. An article written by Lesley Evans Ogden in October 2014 stated that Joyce Pool, who was asked to study male elephant behavior, witnessed a calf watching a bull elephant as he sampled a female’s urine to determine her fertility. She observed as he stared, sniffing and reaching up to the bull and eventually copying his actions. Male elephants may not be involved in the raising of their young however, they play a significant role in the reproduction of their species. Without them the species may interbreed or go extinct. Like humans, they have complex family structures where each member is just as important as the other.
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