10 Incredible Elephant Facts

By Focus Online Team on April 30, 2020
To inspire your next safari

Known for their huge ears and long trunks, African elephants are found across sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of central and West Africa. Learn more about the world’s largest land mammal below.

Their brains weigh about 5kg

Elephants are considered some of the most intelligent animals on earth, with a brain much larger than any other land mammal.

Elephant’s brains have complex folds which is thought to be a major factor in their intellect. Studies indicate that they are superior even to humans in keeping track of multiple objects in 3D space.

They have a well developed hippocampus, a brain region responsible for emotion and spatial awareness.

Newborn elephants weigh about 90kgs

A very heavy baby compared to any other animal in Africa!

Some newborn elephants take to sucking their trunk for comfort in the same way that humans suck their thumbs.

Mothers will have a number of babysitters in the herd to help take care for the calf so that she has time to eat enough to produce sufficient milk.

They live in matriarchal groups

Female elephants live in groups of upwards of 15 animals. They are usually all related and led by the oldest in the group.

Matriarchal elephant herds are considered one of the most closely knit societies of any animal, and a female will only leave if she dies or is forcibly removed.

Pregnancy lasts 22 months

Nothing about elephants is small, and their pregnancies are no exception. Elephants have the longest-known gestational period of any animal, lasting up to 680 days.

Elephants are born with an advanced level of brain development, which they use to recognise the complex social structure of the herd and to learn to feed themselves with their trunks.

Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror.

Elephants join only humans, apes and dolphins as animals that possess this kind of self-awareness – the ability to recognise oneself in a mirror.

Adults drink about 200 litres of water per day

Elephants spent up to 18 hours a day eating and drinking. Adults can drink up to 200 litres of water a day – about as much as a full standard bathtub holds!

Elephants use their trunks like a snorkel when swimming

Elephants are good swimmers and just like us are meant to breathe through their noses. Their extra long trunk provides an ideal snorkel when crossing deep rivers.

Elephant trunks can have over 40,000 individual muscles

If that sounds like a lot, it is. The human body has just 639 muscles. Total.

These trunk muscles work together without bone support – much like the human tongue. Elephant trunks have incredible strength, flexibility and dexterity.

This allows elephants to use them for delicate actions like picking up a single flower or as heavy-hitting as uprooting trees.

Males leave the herd at around 12 years old

Males will leave the matriarchal herd as they become adolescent and live in temporary bachelor herds until they are mature enough to live alone and jostle to the right to mate with different breeding females.

Their closest relatives are the rock hyrax

Unbelievably, the elephant’s closest living relative is the rock hyrax – a small furry mammal that lives in rocky landscapes across sub-Saharan Africa.

If you’re interested in visiting Madikwe Game Reserve to see elephants and much more wildlife, please don’t hesitate to contact our reservations team or view our room rates here.

We look forward to helping you plan your stay in Madikwe.


Image credits: 
Gavin Tonkinson

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