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African Elephant

Loxodonta africana (Family Elephantidae)

Loxodonta africana

A herd of African Elephants in Botswana

African Elephant Answers

African Elephant: Q&A

Common questions asked on Safari About the African Elephant answered.

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African Elephant - Loxodonta africana

Home > Safari Planner  > Mammals > African Elephants

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest land mammal, has a nose elongated as a trunk, with 2 finger-like projections at the tip. Females have 2 mamary glands between their forelegs. males testes are internal.

Height: Mature Bulls average over 3 meters tall (record is 4m) Females about 2.5 meters avg
Weight: Bulls about 5000kg and cows 3000kg

Family Structure:
Elephant society is matriarchal (meaning a female is head of the family) and they live in herds of related females and immature males. Males either live in bachelor herds or live alone. Their rank is determined by seniority and reproductive condition. Herds range in size from 2 to 24 with 9-11 typical.

African Elephant Q&A

Working as a Safari Guide in an area with many Elephants I began to notice some common questions that guests were asking me, here is my guide to some of the most asked questions that people ask about African Elephants.

How do elephants sleep?
They often doze slightly whilst on their feet, but for a proper sleep the lie down. Elephants (especially large bull elephants) will also often lean against a tree to support themselves whilst they doze.

Do elephants have toes?
Yes, elephants have 5 toes one each foot. Not all their toes have toenails. The front foot of an elephant is larger and much more circular in shape. This is because most of an elephants weight is in the front, with its massive skull, tusks and trunk and so the front feet have to take more weight. The elephant´s foot is formed in such a way that it is essentially walking on tiptoe, with a tough and fatty part of connective tissue for the sole.

How good are an elephants senses?
Elephants have excellent smell and hearing, their eyesight is average.

How long do elephants live.
About 60 years. Because elephants have very few natural predators they would usually die of old age, but their age of death is also very dependent on their teeth. Elephants have 6 sets of teeth. Once the last set has worn down an elephants condition will usually rapidly deteriorate in the wild which often leads to death. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal.

Are elephants territorial?
No - elephants do not defend exclusive territories and wander freely. However during times of drought, big bulls can defend dwindling water sources. fights can occur but aggression is usually aimed at other species of animals.

Do elephants really have very good memories?
Definitly, this is necessary because of their long life span and is at least beneificial if not crucial on a continent with such extreme climatic changes (from drought to flood)

Where is the best place to see African Elephants?

African Elephants used to exist anywhere south of the Sahara dessert, where there was water and trees, but because of human population growth and thus loss of habitat and also because of poaching its range has shrunk.

Excellent places to view elephant:
Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe
Hwange national park in Zimbabwe
Chobe National Park in Botswana
Kruger National Park in South Africa
Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania
Masai Mara in Kenya


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African Names for the Elephant

Zulu, Siswati, Xhosa: Ndhlovu
Shangaan: Ndlopfu
Sotho: Tlou
Venda: Ndou
Lozi: Tou
Yei: Unjovo
Shangaan: Ndlopfu
Tswana: Tlou
Swahili: Tembo
Shona: Zhou

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