Elephants -Big 5 Member
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Elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal. They spend three-quarters of their time eating. They prefer grass, seed pods, leaves, bark and fruit. They prefer bathing and drinking daily when water is available. Both female and make African elephants have tusks. The tusks have incisors on the upper end.  They employ their trunks to blow dust or mud on their bodies to prevent sunburn. Just like left and right-handed humans, elephants are also either left- or right-tusked.

The tusk that is frequently used is shorter than the other. The trunk serves many purposes: as a nose, siphoning up water, a hand, and a device for picking up food. They have 12 incisors, which wear out one by one. The ears are huge and used for cooling sunburns.

They are part of Kenya heritage and Africa at large. Of all mammal animals, gestation period is longest in elephants. It is 22 months and calves nurse for almost 2-4 years using their mouth rather than the trunk. They take 12 years to mature and become adults.

Their   tusk used for picking up objects, greet one another and trumpet warnings.

They   are essential ecosystem engineers. Many tree species depend on seeds going through their digestive tract before germination.

Due to shrinking of wild spaces, conflict between humans and elephants has intensified in recent years. To address elephant-human conflict, various programs have been initiated including putting electric fences. Unlike other herbivores, females  have two teats between the front legs.

They form groups comprising of related females and their calves. The matriarch leads these groups. Their social structure of is complex and the female adults are the dominant members. Adult males are expelled after reaching 15 years of age. Males may live in isolation or team with others to form bachelors. The problem facing them in Kenya is poaching. Through poaching, numerous elephants are killed year for their valuable ivory.

 

They  are majestic and intelligent animals. There are two types of elephants: Asian and African elephants. Some of the Asian elephants are located in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. African elephants are the largest land mammals. In Kenya  is the African Elephant, which includes the forest and savannah , known as tembo or ndovu by Kenyan locals.

At an average of 4.8kg the elephant brain is the largest among living and extinct terrestrial mammals. They are very intelligent and studies have shown that they can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent.

The African elephant has permanent and stronger tusks that grow after the first set of tusks fall off. Both males and females have tusks, which are long teeth-like structures protruding from the mouth. Their  tusks continue growing throughout their  life. They  use these tusks for digging, fighting, and looking for food.

Elephants often organize themselves into different herds. The family herd is led by an older female and consists of mothers, calves, and teenage female elephants. The male elephants form other bachelor groups and leave at will to search for mates.

Females spend their entire lives in their family but males depart from their natal family anywhere from 9 to 18 years of age – a process that can take anywhere from 1 to 4 years. When their  families come together, they are termed a bond group. Like the family, bond group membership is also usually determined by genetic relatedness. The next social level is a clan.  Clans are defined as families who share the same dry season home range, when resources are scarce, they share the same foraging area.

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal; the average period is 640 to 660 days.  At birth calves weigh about 120 kg. New-born calves may consume 11.4 litres of milk a day. As a minimum, the African elephant calf is entirely dependent (emotionally and physically) on his/her mother for three to five years.

They rarely forget their path and they can detect water sources. They often point their trunks in their air and this helps them smell water particles, and they dig holes in the ground to reveal new springs. This helps the other smaller animals get water. They drink about 18 to 50 gallons every day, but they also like to play in the water and mud.

When African elephants are happy, angry, or aggravated, they flap their ears.  They  have very large fleshy ears that also help to keep the cool. Because of the large surface area, they can get rid of excess body heat from the savannah sun. They  has an impressive ability to hear other elephants even if they are a couple of kilometers away.

Tuskers are large male elephants. Kenya Breweries (now EABL) was the first brewing company and the founder of the company, George Hurst, created a lager in 1929. He loved hunting and during one of his expeditions in the jungle, he was trampled to death by an elephant. His brother named the beer Tusker, and it has grown to be one of the most consumed beers in the country.

The Largest and Oldest Elephant, “Giant Tusker,” Was Killed by Poachers. The gut-wrenching news of Satao’s death shook the globe because there are less than 30 African big Tuskers left. With global warming on the rise, these big elephants are becoming extinct because they cannot find water and they are also in danger because of the imminent threat of poachers. Although conservationists and authorities are doing everything they can, the death of Satao in 2014 and Satao II in March 2017 proves that there are still many poachers on the loose.

Although Satao died from a poisoned arrow as BBC reported, his tusks were still attached and he was saved before poachers could try to make away with them. This came after Kenya burned the biggest stockpile of ivory in May 2016 as a bid to discourage poachers.

Tim one of the last remaining great tuskers in Kenya; with tusks so long that they touch the ground recently died due to natural causes. Tim was not only known for his tusks but also his friendly and charismatic personality. He was also known to be a prolific father much sought after by females in oestrus and spent his adult life passing on his genes to elephant population in Amboseli. He died in February, 2020 at the age of 50 from natural causes. Tim was over 11 feet tall and weighed over 12,000 lbs. The 150,000 bundles of muscle fibers in Tim’s trunk can lift about 800 lbs.

 

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Baloon flight in Masai Mara with elephants

 

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