The Story of The Elephants
Elephants are majestic creatures that live in India and in Africa; Thousands of years ago, their brother, the mammoth came to America too. Now it is extinct, only its bones are found in many places in the world. There are three species of elephants alive today, the African bush elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Indian or Asian elephant. The elephant is the largest animal that walks the Earth; the blue whale is the largest mammal.
Elephants are very intelligent animals that live in herds. The oldest female is the leader of the herd; with her you find younger females and calves of all ages. The males are solitary and come in contact with the females for mating only. A herd of elephants is a beautiful sight to see, but if they have newborns or very young calves, it is very dangerous to get close to them or to make them feel threatened. They will form a tight circle around the young ones and the matriarch and other females will attack not only people or a pack of lions; they will attack a truck if they have to.
It takes twenty two months for a two hundred and sixty pound calf to be born. It is the longest pregnancy period for any land animal. The calves are born strong and active and even then are difficult prey for predators. Although many times lions manage to separate a weak new born and they take it down before the fight even starts, it is not easy to steal a baby elephant from the herd. Usually it is natural selection that allows lions to feed on a weak or sick baby elephant.
Elephants have to migrate through huge distances especially during the dry months when they have to move from water hole to water hole. It is the old females and especially the matriarch that guide the herd to water; they remember the paths and the ways to them for many years. When the matriarch dies the next oldest takes her place and the circle of life continues. Males are lonely animals that travel through the forests or the savannas alone, sometimes they travel with other males but usually they do so alone. A mature, healthy male elephant has no natural predators. They are magnificent, fierce beasts.
Elephants are very intelligent animals and they are trained to perform many jobs in Asia and in Africa. They are trained to work in logging camps, hauling timber, and they are trained for circuses and other shows. Elephants learn how to find food and water during the dry season and they always find their way back to their homes and feeding grounds hundreds of miles away. An elephant only needs to travel a path once and it will never forget the path for the rest of its life.
The proboscis or trunk is an appendage formed by the upper lip and the nose, the elephant uses it to pick up things. It can be used to pick up a small piece of grass or to pick a man up from the ground. It is very sensitive and the elephant uses it for everything that involves feeling and touching things. Like every herbivore, the elephant has flat teeth with which it can pick leaves and grind them in its mouth. They prefer to rip the leaves or grasses from the ground or branch with their trunk and put it directly in their mouths. They also use them to feel and smell each other, When the herd is together you can see the mothers find and caress their babies with their trunk.
Elephants are generally peaceful animals; they are so powerful that they will usually ignore anything smaller than they are. For many years they populated Africa and Asia and they prospered without any problems. The over population of man and man's need to produce food has created tension between them and this noble animals. Little by little man has taken possession of the elephant's territories, forcing men to kill these magnificent beasts to protect their families and their crops.
Now, elephants are cared for and usually kept inside wild reserves where they are controlled and protected. Once in a while one of them manages to escape and gets into trouble with his human neighbors and it has to be returned to the reservation. For some time elephants were in grave danger of extinction, today their numbers are growing and there are no more problems with their survival, The problems lie in the fact that man continues to take their land for agricultural and one day the elephants will have nowhere to go.