The African bush elephant is the larger of the two species of African elephant. Both it and the African forest elephant have usually been classified as a single species, known simply as the African elephant, but recent evidence has seen the forest elephant classified as a distinct species . Some authorities still consider the currently available evidence as insufficient for splitting African elephants into two species.
Similar species: Elephants
Uploaded Jun 17, 2011. Captured May 19, 2011 00:13.
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Posted 11 years ago
Today is Save the Elephant Day, a day to raise awareness and show support for these beloved animals. Experts generally recognize two species of elephant: the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) and the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), although there are several subspecies. They are the world's largest land animals with African elephant males weighing as much as 6 tons, while the smaller Asian elephants weight around 5 tons. Elephants are social, emotional, compassionate, and intelligent. They have large brains with a high degree of folding, which indicates tremendous intelligence and behavioral flexibility. They show emotions such as anger, joy, and grief. They form tight family bonds and live in complex family units. They love their babies, nurturing, protecting, and reassuring them. They play with each other, care for one another, and mourn their dead. In fact, as sentient and intelligent creatures, elephants are quite similar to humans.
A notable feature of elephants is their magnificent ivory tusks, which are actually teeth and can weight over 100 lbs (45 kg) each! Their tusks are a blessing and a curse. They are beneficial because elephants use their tusks to dig, to gather food, and for self-defense. Sadly, their tusks are also a curse because humanity's greed for ivory has led to the slaughter of innumerable elephants.
Elephants are a keystone species, meaning that they have a critical impact on their environment and in maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystem in which they live. For example, they use their tusks to dig water holes, which also provide water for other animals. Plus, they sculpt landscapes and keep the plains open by creating gaps in the vegetation that allow new plants to grow and create paths for other animals to traverse. Elephants are herbivorous and eat 200-600 lbs of vegetation per day, which causes them to poop a lot. Their dung provides a huge boost to the environment because it is full of seeds and nutrients. Elephants also benefit humans as the cornerstone of a multi-billion dollar tourist industry.
African elephants are listed as Vulnerable, while Asian elephants are classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The biggest threats to their survival are habitat loss and poaching for the ivory trade. Elephants need a lot of space to find enough food and water to sustain them. As their habitat shrinks or is converted into palm oil plantations, so goes the population of elephants. Furthermore, elephants are illegally killed for their ivory tusks. The ivory trade is an epidemic that has devastated elephant populations. And, it's a trade that thrives on greed, corruption, and poverty. Plus, it's brutal: elephants die an agonizing death as their tusks are gouged out of their heads.
Elephants are wildlife icons, and they are clearly in crisis. What can be done?
1. Elephants are living beings, not trinkets. Don't buy ivory products. If we eliminate the demand, trafficking will be crippled, and the poaching will cease.
2. Commit to only buying sustainable palm oil. This sends a message that it is not okay to destroy the last remaining wild habitats where elephants (and other wildlife live), in order to produce cheaper vegetable oil. Become an informed consumer: one who demands the enforcement of sustainable standards for sourcing palm oil.
These small steps could have an enormous impact in securing the future of elephants and the ecological integrity of the habitats in which they live. #JungleDragon Posted 4 years ago