The African Elephant- Loxodonta Africana

By Nkosinomusa Nyoni

The most intelligent and biggest land mammals in the world,eating a whopping 50 tonnes of grass, herbs, fruits, plants and trees a year. Male elephants can grow as tall as 3m on average and weigh between 4 to 7,5 tonnes and their female counterparts weigh an average of 3,5 tonnes.An average elephant has a lifespan of approximately 70 years. The African Elephant can be found mostly in the following national parks; Gonarezhou, Mana Pools, Hwange, Zambezi, Matusadona and Lake Kariba Recreational Park. 

© Chris Collyer

Key features

  • Ears

They have big ears that extend above the shoulder. They are designed this way to pump blood around them to help cool the elephant down under the hot African sun. They flap their ears more when temperatures increase. If you pay close attention to the shape of their ears, you might see a resemblance of the map of Africa.

  • Head

They have round shaped heads that are fuller and the top of their heads have a single dome.

  • Tusks

A lot can be concluded by just looking at the tusks of an elephant. Both the female and male elephants grow tusks, and they never stop growing. The longer the tusks, the older the elephant.

  • Skin

Their skin can be up to 2.5 cm thick in some places but that does not make them immune to skin parasites, hence them using mud and dust baths as a way to get rid of the parasites.

  • Teeth

Elephants have 6 sets of teeth that grow one set after another throughout their lives. Most elephants start using their last set of teeth in their 50s.

  • Trunks

These can weigh as much as 140kg and can lift up to 349kg. Elephant trunks actually have ‘fingers’, the African elephant has 2. That’s why they are able to grasp objects by pinching the opposing tips of the trunks.

  • Back

Their backs are concave with a small hollow in them.- © NZiRA Travel Zimbabwe

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