This week’s endangered species is the African Elephant (Loxodonta cylclotis) (photo from David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust). Found in sub-Saharan Africa, these elephants are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN, due to human/elephant conflicts and poaching for their ivory tusks. Most of us have seen elephants, on TV or in zoos (or in the wild, if we’ve been lucky enough), but can you pass the GREAT BIG ELEPHANT QUIZ? See if you can answer the following 10 questions:
- T/F Elephants only use their trunks for smelling
- T/F Elephants can use their ears to cool their bodies
- T/F African elephants are the largest land mammal on Earth
- T/F Herds are led by dominant females
- T/F Male elephants live in herds
- T/F Elephant gestation is one of the longest pregnancies on Earth
- T/F Both male and female elephants have tusks
- T/F Elephants are carnivores
- T/F Elephants have great memories
- T/F Elephants are big sleepers
Answers (from Wildlife Heroes, by Scardina and Flocken; National Geographic website; and Love, Life, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick)
- False – elephants also use their trunks for breathing, drinking, and picking up small objects. The trunk contains about 100,000 different muscles!
- True – thanks to radiation of heat through their ears
- True! Asian elephants are a little smaller
- True – elephant herds are made up of family groups of females, led by one dominant female
- False – once they hit maturity, these big guys are loners
- True – yes greenmomsters, your pregnancy may have seemed long, but it’s nothing compared to the 22 month gestation of an elephant. Oh, and you thought your 9 lbs baby was big? Try 200 lbs!
- False, thank goodness – elephants survive on grasses, roots, and bark. Up to 300 lbs per day!
- True – not just a myth! For a fascinating book on elephants, their memories, and one woman’s love story and lifetime of trying to save orphaned elephants, check out Love, Life, and Elephants by Dame Daphne Sheldrick
- False – elephants don’t really sleep for long periods of time
Need more reasons to care about elephant conservation? From Wildlife Heroes, “Elephants shape the environments in which they live by opening up forests, controlling brush and tree growth, and digging for water and minerals, which benefits other animals. Their copious amounts of dung also help fertilize the landscape and disperse seeds.”
How’s a greenmomster to help?
- NEVER buy ivory or other elephant products
- Read and learn about these fascinating creatures. An easy read on elephants that I really enjoyed was “Echo of the Elephants” by Cynthia Moss and Martyn Colbeck.
- Support elephant conservation. Two groups worth looking into: Save the Elephants and The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
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