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Elephants are the largest You cannot be overlooked: Elephants are the largest land animals on earth. You can't ignore them either: They can trumpet mega loud! Especially when they're excited.
Already on your feet after the birth
Elephant mothers carry their baby to term for 22 months - that is a world record. It can take its first steps just an hour after its birth!
A baby elephant weighs around 100 kilograms when it is born.
Like all baby mammals, it initially drinks the mother's milk by mouth. Surprise: the teats of the mother elephant are not between the hind legs, as is the case with most mammals, but between the front legs!
Do you want to compete with an African elephant?
Elephant herds consist only of females and children, usually around ten animals live together. They are led by an older female, the lead cow. She is experienced and takes the group to the best feeding and water places or warns them about lions or humans.
A herd protects its young and also old or injured members. For example, an elephant has been observed to bring fodder plants to a sick herd member.
The young animals drink their mother's milk up to the age of four. But as early as three months they start to pluck blades of grass with their trunks.
The young males become independent around the age of 15 and then leave the herd. They move around with other young bulls or live as loners. They only come together with females in a herd for mating. The females usually stay in the herd in which they were born for life.
The elephants' most important tool
What is special about an elephant? Right, the trunk! The trunk is the upper lip and nose in one. Above all, the pachyderms can breathe with it. But not only that: elephants can also feel with their trunks. There are a lot of fine whisker hairs at its tip.
Trunks are made up of thousands of muscles and are therefore extremely flexible. Asian elephants have a finger-like extension on their trunk with which they can grip, African elephants even two. This enables them to pluck leaves and branches from trees from a height of up to six meters.
The pachyderms also use their proboscis for drinking: So suck in water, hold on to it and then squirt into their mouths. Or spray the water over your back like a shower. Up to eight liters fit into the trunk of adult elephants!
Elephants drink up to 200 liters of water a day. That's 200 liter bottles! You can even use the trunk as a snorkel when diving underwater.
Instead of water, you can use sand: They fling it onto their backs with their trunks to scare away annoying insects. The sand also protects against sunburn.
Elephants also use their trunks in combat. But the best thing: with their trunk they also show what mood they are in. With it elephants can trumpet, sniff, touch, stroke and even comfort each other.
Elephants have big ears so as not to overheat. When they wag their ears, which are well supplied with blood, they give off body heat. Because they cannot sweat like us humans. Of course, a cool bath also helps against the heat, and elephants like to splash their trunks wet.
Which elephants are there?
There are more than 500 plant species on the forest elephant menu. After eating, the animals wander through the forest and keep dropping their piles somewhere else.
Because the seeds of the plants are in it, the elephants spread the plants of the rainforest in this way. The heaps are also an ideal fertilizer for the germinating trees.
Without elephants, some tropical tree species would not be able to reproduce at all. For example those with hard fruits that only elephants can crack and eat.
The Red List says: African savanna elephants and Asian elephants are "critically endangered". The African forest elephants are even "critically endangered".
You can find out more about the Red List and the various levels of risk here.
What threatens the elephants?
Elephants in Africa are being killed by poachers to sell their ivory at a high price. That's why thousands of elephants die there every year. Because only the males of the elephants in Asia have ivory tusks, poachers there are no longer as keen on the animals. In Asia, elephants are also killed for their skin, for example. Another major threat is the shrinking elephant habitat in Africa and Asia, as more and more people are creating fields and pastures. Then it happens that elephants plunder the fields or use human water supplies. Some farmers then use their rifles. These conflicts can be particularly bad in southern Africa, where there are still quite a few savanna elephants.
We are committed to large protected areas and ensure that the elephants can wander between the protected areas undisturbed.
The WWF is fighting against poaching of elephants and other animals. In Africa in particular, we are working harder to ensure that more rangers take care of the animals and that the rangers have good equipment to do their job properly.
It is also important that poachers and smugglers who are arrested are adequately punished. To make this happen, for example, we work with informants who help us catch poachers. And we train lawyers so that they can enforce harsh sentences in court.
In Asia, WWF is helping government agencies to severely punish traders who illegally trade in elephant parts. Dealers and buyers of ivory and items made of ivory (like the jewelry in the photo) should go to jail if caught. Good news: China, which has previously sold the most ivory, has now completely banned the ivory trade.
We also help explain to people not to buy ivory or any other elephant product. We also explain to the people in the elephant areas how important the elephants are. For example, many tourists come to see elephants. This enables the local people to earn money. And we help farmers to keep the elephants out of their fields so that they don't get angry with the elephants and want to kill them.
Here's how you can help
Avoid souvenirs made from elephants, such as ivory, their skin or their hair, when on holiday. Here you can find out what else you should leave lying around and what you can bring with you instead.
Please only share with the consent of a parent or legal guardian.
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