The letter “E” is for “Elephant”
Elephants are the only surviving member of the Proboscidea family (mammals with trunks), which once included the extinct Mastodons and Mammoths of long ago.
Elephants not only use their long trunks to feed themselves, but also to pick up varying objects, trumpet warnings, greet other elephants, suck up water for drinking and bathing, and for other uses, as well.
Elephant tusks are really extended teeth which serve many purposes. They can be used to protect the elephant’s trunk, to lift and move objects, gather food, and strip bark from trees. Their tusks are sometimes also used for defense. During times of severe drought, elephants may even use their tusks to dig holes in the ground to locate drinking water.
Once common throughout both Africa and Asia, elephant populations have experienced serious declines over the last century. The greatest threat to African elephants is poaching their tusks for the illegal ivory trade. Asian elephants are most at risk from habitat loss and resulting human-elephant conflict when they come in contact. After decades of population declines, the African Forest Elephant is now listed as Critically Endangered and the African Savanna Elephant as Endangered.
Did you know . . . .
- There are two types of elephants, the Asian Elephant and the African Elephant, of which there are two types — the Savannah Elephant and the Forest Elephant.
- Asian elephants are smaller than African elephants and their ears are smaller compared to the larger, fan-shaped ears of the African elephants.
- Both male and female African elephants grow tusks and each elephant can either be left- or right-tusked in the same manner we humans can be either left- or right-handed. The tusk they use the most is usually smaller because of wear and tear. On the contrary, only some male Asian elephants have tusks.
- Elephants are the largest living land mammal on Earth. When fully grown, African Elephants range in size from eight to thirteen feet high at the shoulder and weigh between 5,000 to 14,000 pounds. Asian Elephants are smaller than their African cousins with a height of seven to ten feet at the shoulder and weigh between 4,500 to 11,000 pounds on average. The only living mammal larger than an elephant is the Blue Whale.
- Elephants are herbivores, which means they eat only plants, and spend sixteen hours a day eating. Favorite foods include bamboo, flowers, fruits, grasses, leaves, twigs, seeds, and herbs. An adult elephant can eat between 300 to 600 pounds of food and drink between 30 to 50 gallons of water each day!
- Elephants are all about “Family”. Family ties and relationships are as important to elephants as they are to us. Female elephants travel together in family groups called “herds” that can range in size from eight to one hundred elephants, with the oldest female being the leader. Male elephants leave the herd when they reach the age of twelve to fifteen years old to live alone or with other male elephants.
- When left on their own in their natural habitat in the wild with abundant food, water, and low amounts of stress, elephants are known to live as long as seventy years of age.
- Elephants communicate with each other using a wide variety of sounds, including crying, roaring, snorting, and rumbling. With great hearing, elephants communicate and hear each other from as far as five miles away. Elephants are able to do this by using very sensitive nerves in their feet to hear sound vibrations traveling thru the ground at a volume only the elephants can hear.
Would you like to color an Elephant? Simply ‘Right Click’ on an image, hit ‘Save Image As’ to save a local copy, and then print out as many as you want!
BONUS — The letter “E” is for Eagle, too! Bald Eagles, with their white-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, are the proud national bird symbol of the United States. After many years of being hunted for both sport and to protect commercial fishing grounds while also being poisoned by such pesticides as DDT, Bald Eagles nearly became extinct. Bans on hunting coupled with restrictions on the use of DDT have led to Bald Eagle populations recovering over the past several decades, to the point to where they can once more be seen soaring on high in many areas of the United States and Canada. With these birds now classified as Least Concern after once being listed as Endangered, a true conservation success story.
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