World Elephant Day: The majestic elephants are a joy to behold, but remain under threat due to poaching and loss of natural habitat. According to official estimates, there are believed to be about 20,000 Indian elephants remaining in the wild. Here are some amazing facts about the mighty elephant!
Elephants love to eat!
Elephants are herbivores and can spend nearly 12 to 16 hours a day eating, consuming between 150 to 300 kg of food a day, with a large African elephant’s diet extending to about 600 kg daily. They are known to knock down large trees to get to the fruits and foliage above. Indian elephants love feasting on sugarcane. They are also fed vegetables like cabbage, besides apples and bananas. Indian elephants can guzzle 200 litres of water a day in summers.
Female elephants are the boss
Elephants are led by a grand matriarch or the oldest and usually, the largest female in the herd, which can go from a group of eight to nearly a hundred relatives. Males lead separate lives, roaming with other males or living a solitary existence; some can even turn rogue and become aggressive. However, elephants believe in bonding and show a lot of physical affection towards each other.
An elephant literally never forgets
An elephant’s memory goes back several years. Female matriarchs can distinguish between the calls of female lions and predatory male lions, meaning a difference between life and death for the calves. It also helps them lead the herd towards remote water sources during dry spells.
Elephants are incredibly smart
Elephants are known to be intelligent creatures and their brains are the largest for any land animal. Research has suggested that they can differentiate between human voices and can tell if one poses a threat, going into defense mode. They are known to dig holes to access drinking water, use sticks to swat flies and also comfort each other during distress.
They communicate in interesting ways
We all know that elephants trumpet during stress and excitement, but they also produce a sub-sonic rumble, when they want to send a message to an entire herd, the sound travelling a large distance over the ground, received by the skin of their feet and trunks.
Elephants don’t sweat, so how do they stay cool?
Since the pachyderms lack sweat glands, it has been believed that they flap their large ears to stay cool. However, new research suggests that they also direct blood supply to “hot spots” or patches of skin that helps them lose heat quickly. They love cooling down with a bath, too!