African bush elephant - Loxodonta africana Feb 14, 2017 5:12:12 GMT 5
Post by Ceratodromeus on Feb 14, 2017 5:12:12 GMT 5
There are currently 4 recognized subspecies of African bush elephant, based on minor morphological and genetic differences. However, not all authorities view this as a reliable form of classification; One is now extinct*.
- Southern African bush elephant L. a. africana
- East African(Masai) bush elephant - L. a. knochenhaueri
- West African (Plains)bush elephant - L. a. oxyotis
- *North African bush elephant - L. a. pharaohensis
The African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest land animal on earth, being up to 3.96 m (13.0 ft) tall at the shoulder and 10.4 tonnes (22,930 lb) in weight (a male shot in 1974, near Mucusso, southern Angola). On average, males are 3.2 metres (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and 6 tonnes (13,230 lb) in weight, while females are much smaller at 2.6 metres (8.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and 3 tonnes (6,610 lb) in weight. The most characteristic features of African elephants are their very large ears, which they use to radiate excess heat, and their trunk, a nose and an extension of the upper lip with two opposing extensions, or "fingers" at the end of it (in contrast to the Asian elephant, which only has one). The trunk is used for communication and handling objects and food. African elephants also have bigger tusks, large modified incisors that grow throughout an elephant's life. They occur in both males and females and are used in fights and for marking, feeding, and digging.
Adult males usually live alone. Herds are made up of related females and their young, led by the eldest female, called the matriarch. Infrequently, an adult male goes with them, but those usually leave the herd when reaching adolescence to form bachelor herds with other elephants of the same age. Later, they lead a solitary life, approaching the female herds only during the mating season. Nevertheless, elephants do not get too far from their families and recognize them when re-encountered. Sometimes, several female herds can blend for a time, reaching even hundreds of individuals.
The matriarch decides the route and shows the other members of the herd all the water sources she knows, which the rest can memorize for the future. The relations among the members of the herd are very tight; when a female gives birth, the rest of the herd acknowledges it by touching her with their trunks. When an old elephant dies, the rest of the herd stays by the corpse for a while. The famous elephant graveyards are false, but these animals have recognized a carcass of their species when they found one during their trips, and even if it was a stranger, they formed around it, and sometimes they even touched its forehead with their trunks.
Mating happens when the female becomes receptive, an event that can occur anytime during the year. When she is ready, she starts emitting infrasounds to attract the males, sometimes from kilometers away. The adult males start arriving at the herd during the following days and begin fighting, causing some injuries and even broken tusks. The female shows her acceptance of the victor by rubbing her body against his. They mate, and then both go their own way. After 22 months of gestation (the longest among mammals), the female gives birth to a single 90-cm-high calf which weighs more than 100 kg. The baby feeds on the mother's milk until the age of five, but also eats solid food from as early as six months old. Just a few days after birth, the calf can follow the herd by foot.
Like all species of elephant, the male African bush elephant experiences musth, a period of extreme aggression accompanied with high testosterone levels. A bull in musth has been known to attack anything which disturbs him including his family members, humans, and other passive animals such as giraffes and rhinoceros.In one case a young male African bush elephant has been witnessed killing a rhinoceros during musth.
The adult African bush elephant generally has no natural predators due to its great size, but the calves (especially the newborns) are vulnerable to lion and crocodile attacks, and (rarely) to leopard and hyena attacks. Some prides of lions prey on both infants and juveniles, especially in the drought months. Lions in Chobe National Park in Botswana have been observed for some time taking both infants (23% of elephant kills) and juveniles. Predation, as well as drought, contribute significantly to infant mortality.