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Africa’s very own gentle giant, the elephant is one of the Big 5 that you are certain to see while on a Kruger Park safari. Before you set off for the Kruger, learn more about the elephant here.

Facts about the Elephant

  • Adult elephant can weigh up to 7 tons and stand 3.3 meters at shoulder height, making the elephant the world’s largest mammal.
  • The average weight of an adult bull elephant’s tusks can be 55 kg on average, but tusks weighing 90 kgs have been found. Elephants grow old, up to 70 years. 
  • What we would perceive to be an elephants “knees” are actually referred to as wrists. An elephant’s foot consists of a solid bone, unlike humans who have many bones in their feet.  The elephant’s trunk, is actually his nose.  The trunk is very sensitive and elephant can sniff out underground water with its trunk.  An elephant’s trunk is four times better than that of a bloodhound and 160 times better than a humans.  It consists of an unbelievable 50 000 muscles, with finger-like appendages at its tip enabling an elephant to pull up grasses, small twigs or even remove a thorn from its foot.   
  • Elephant tusks are actually incisors that never stop growing. So if you come across an elephant with huge tusks, know that he is a very old elephant. In males they are not only used to get food but also for fighting and self-defence.  Although an elephants skin is up to 3cm think, their skin is very sensitive. 
  • The African Elephant is not a seasonal breeder. After a gestation period of 22 months females will have only one calf which weighs about 100 kilograms.  They only have one calf every 3 or 4 years. 
  • Elephants are very family orientated, and should a calf become orphaned, another lactating female in the family group will “adopt” the calf and suckle it. Loving mothers, elephant keep and teach their offspring for many years. Elephant calves are weaned at the age of 4 or 5 years.  Females which mature at 11 years, will stay with the group, males only mature at about 14 years and they are then expelled from the maternal group.  
  • Elephant have no sweat glands and therefore flap their ears to keep cool, not in anger as is so often believed. Elephant love to wade in the water or have mad baths.  The mud on their skin acts as a natural sun screen.
  • When threatened or angry, an elephant will first do a mock charge. This means it will trumpet, bash around in the bush or throw dust around.  It will also open its ears out.  Should this not make the threat leave it will pin its ears back and lower its head and trunk before it charges. 
  • Mature male elephant normally live in bachelor groups, while females stay in groups of females and calves, which is always led by an elderly female. The mature males will visit the female groups looking for females in oestrus.  The female and male groups often interact regularly and know each other well. 
  • Elephant eat 12 to 18 hours a day and can “poop” every 15 minutes creating one ton of “poop” a week.

Find out more about the fascinating elephant when you join us for a Kruger Park safari. Book your tour of the Kruger National Park with Wanyama Safaris today.

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