Ten Fascinating Facts About Elephants (and Our Favorite Photos)

Elephants in Ngorongoro Crater

Hey gang! So in light of the many incredible encounters we had with elephants during our epic safari through Tanzania, we thought we’d share a few interesting facts about elephants, and some cool photos from the trip. Check ‘em out!

Yes, elephants are big. You knew that. But did you know that elephants are the largest land animals on Earth?

Elephants in the Serengeti

There are actually are two species of elephants, the Asian elephant and the African elephant. The African elephants are the larger of the two, growing up to 13 feet tall (from toe to shoulder) and weighing in at up to 14,000 pounds! Their Asian relatives only grow to a measly 10 feet tall from toe to shoulder, and only weigh in at about 12,000 pounds. Puny little guys, huh? 🙂

And elephants have a giant appetite to match! It takes a lot of food to fill those big bellies, after all. And that can mean an elephant will eat up to 300 pounds of food (mostly grasses, fruits, roots and bark) in a single day!

Apart from their differences in size, you can differentiate between the two species by looking at their ears. The African elephant’s ears are larger and (coincidentally) look a bit like the shape of the African continent when you stretch them out. Asian elephants have smaller ears that appear more rounded on top and flat along the bottom.

Elephant in the Serengeti

Elephants have their own kind of “hand shake,” believe it or not. When elephants meet each other it’s customary to extend their trunks as a greeting, a behavior taught to the young elephants by the matriarch of the herd. Mom says to be polite! 🙂

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Speaking of trunks, an elephant’s trunk has more than 100,000 muscles! They use their trunks to breathe, to pick things up, to make noises, and to drink and smell. And when it gets a bit too toasty outside, African elephants will actually suck water into their trunks and then blow it back out to give themselves a cool shower.

Elephant in the Ngorongoro Crater

Also – just like we humans are right-handed or left-handed, it’s thought that elephants are generally right-tusked or left-tusked. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the dominant tusk is easy to identify because it will be the one that’s more worn down. Far out, huh?

Elephants in Lake Manyara National Park

Lastly, elephants generally live between 30 and 50 years in the wild. And a far as the world’s population of elephants goes, it’s actually a good news/bad news situation. The Asian elephant is considered “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and their overall numbers are thought to be decreasing. The African elephant, however, is considered “vulnerable” by the IUCN and its population is actually thought to be rising slightly.

Aren’t they just the best? Let’s all do what we can to help promote elephant conservation efforts worldwide, and make sure these magnificent creatures will be loved and protected for generations to come.

Cheers!

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