The African elephant is the largest land animal on Earth. They are slightly larger than their Asian cousins and can be identified by their larger ears that look somewhat like the continent of Africa. During the dry season, they use their tusks to dig up dry riverbeds and create watering holes many animals can drink from. Their dung is full of seeds, helping plants spread across the environment and it makes a pretty good habitat for dung beetles too! In the forest, their feasting on trees and shrubs creates pathways for smaller animals to move through, and in the savanna, they uproot trees and eat saplings, which helps keep the landscape open for zebras and other plains animals to thrive.
Diet of African Elephant
Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark, and they eat a lot of these things. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. These hungry animals do not sleep much, and they roam over great distances while foraging for the large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies.
African Elephant Breeding
They do not mate at a specific time; however, they are less likely to reproduce in times of drought than when water is plentiful. The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months and fertile females usually give birth every 3–6 years, so if they live to around 50 years of age, they may produce 7 offspring. The lifespan of the African bush elephant is 60 – 70 years, and the African forest elephant lives 60 – 70 years.
Threats to survival
Because poachers target elephants for their tusks, these years of violence have also had an expecting result: African elephants are evolving to become tuskless. Studies across the continent have shown that regions with historically higher levels of poaching now have higher than usual proportions of tuskless females. Researchers are still trying to figure out how this evolution could affect the species in the long term. African elephants are also losing their habitat as the human population grows and people convert land for agriculture and development.