Elephants

Katie Stoughton

Classification

There are two main types of elephants. Asian elephants and African elephants. Both are in the family Elephantidae. The Asian elephants are in the genus Elephas. The African elephants are in the genus Loxondonta.

Evolutionary Relationships

Elephants are closely related to mammoths and mastodons both are extinct and look very similar to Elephants. All other families within the elephants order, Proboscidea, are extinct. Therefore, elephants do not have any other closely related species.

Habitat

Elephants are nomadic by nature because they are forced to roam to find large quantities of food to sustain life. Elephants live in habitats ranging from rain forests to deserts. Although they have been known to prefer habitats with water and or mud.

Diet

Elephants are herbivores and they can consume up to 300 pounds of food a day. They eat roots, grasses, fruits, and bark. They use their tusks to dig for food and water; they also use their tusks to strip bark off of trees.

Social Interactions

Female elephants, which are known as cows, live in groups with their young.

Adult males, called bulls, usually roam independently.


Females are pregnant for about 22 months, longer than any other mammal. Adult females usually give birth every two to four years. They have many different mates.

Movement

Elephants walk on four strong legs needed for their nomadic lifestyle, in which they need to travel long distances to obtain food. They have also been known to swim. The trunk however is probably one of the most important features that elephants have because they use their trunks for grabbing, smelling, breathing, trumpeting, and feeding.

Protection Status

African elephants are considered threatened and Asian elephants are considered (highly) endangered. There are only about 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. This is do to elephants being hunted, for their ivory and skin, and loss of habitat.

Size and Weight

African Elephants:

weight: 5,000 - 14,000 lbs

size: 8.2 - 13 ft


Asian Elephants

weight: 4,500 - 11,000 lbs

size: 6.6 - 9.8 ft

Predators

The only real predators elephants have are humans and large wild cats, for example lions.