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African elephants are endangered




AFRICAN elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. The biggest can be up to 7.5m long, 3.3m high at the shoulder, and 6 tons in weight. What is special about the elephant is just how similar they are to humans, socially and developmentally.

Elephants are capable of a range of emotions, including joy, playfulness, grief and mourning. Elephants greet each other and show a sign of affection by wrap­ping their trunks together like us hugging each other or shaking hands. They have a variety of complex communications among their herd members and express their feelings by squeak, chirp, rumble or trumpet. They love to chat. They comfort upset friends by chirps of sympathy to help reassure them that everything will be ok. Female members help to look after each other’s calves. Young females babysit and learn how to look after the little ones. Mourning is another surprising similarity the way we mourn. They are known to mourn as a group for a certain amount of time and then also to cover the body with some dirt. Elephants are herbivo­rous and they eat grasses, roots, fruits, twigs and bark. They are gentle giants. Elephants are one of the few species that have the cognitive ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. Their behavior is associated with a unique intelligence.

African elephants once roamed across most of the continent from the northern Mediterranean coast to the Southern tip. But they are now confined to a much smaller range and are considered vul­nerable. Significant elephant populations are now confined to well-protected areas. How­ever, less than 20% of African elephant habitat is under formal protection. There are a couple of main reasons why elephants are endangered – illegal killing of them and the destruction of their habitat.

(To be continued)