The elephant, the planet’s largest terrestrial mammal, is a fascinating creature but it remains an unfortunate target of the poaching underworld. The children of the future will only remember elephants as the dinosaurs of the 21st century if this continues. It is up to save them. To do this we have to start with education and knowledge, so in light of that here are 10 facts everyone should know about elephants.
- There are three distinct species of elephant left in the world: The Asian elephant and Africa has the forest and savannah elephant species.
- The word “elephant” comes from the Greek word “elephas” which means “ivory”.
- An elephant's trunk weighs 400 pounds — but can pick up things as small as a single grain of rice.
- Elephants can recognize themselves in the mirror. They join humans, apes, and dolphins as the only animals with self-awareness.
- They are afraid of bees. Farmers even use beehives to deter elephants from coming onto their land.
- Elephants can have babies until they're 50 years old.
- The oldest known elephant in the world lived for 86 years (1917 – 2003). The average lifespan of an elephant is from 50 to 70 years. The largest known elephant was shot in Angola in 1956 and weighed about 24 000 pounds! It had a shoulder height of 3.96 metres!
- Elephants are pregnant for 22 months — it's the longest gestation period of any mammal.
- Elephant behaviour is associated with a unique animal intelligence that displays grief, altruism, compassion, self-awareness, play, art and music!
- Elephants are born blind.
- They also weigh up to 260 pounds at birth.
- They "hug" their trunks to say hello to each other.
- The elephant’s very large ears are used to radiate excess heat away from the body.
- The elephant brain is remarkably similar to the human brain, with as many neurons and synapses, as well as a highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex.
- Don’t try to outsmart an elephant! They have an understanding of basic arithmetic and can even keep track of relative quantities.
- Elephants have no need for mascara — their eyelashes can be up to five inches long.
- The elephant's closest living relative is the hyrax, which resemble "a large guinea pig with a grouchy-looking overbite."