Bumping along the dusty road to the Serengeti, we came across our first elephant family, grazing and at play, along the roadside.

The good news was that they were fairly close. 

The bad news was that they were fairly close.

Elephant

This is not a zoom shot!

And this male wasn’t pleased with our presence.

But all ended well, when he decided that we were decidedly uninteresting.

 

 

20 Amazing Elephant Facts

 

Elephants are highly emotional, affectionate and very social creatures. It’s impossible not to be taken with them. I could have sat for hours, just watching and shooting pictures. Which made me curious…

elephant

 

Did you know…

 

    1. Male elephants can weigh up to 7 tonnes?
    2. Gestation is 22 months
    3. Elephants eat as much as 4-7% of their body weight daily.
    4. The average lifespan is about 70 years.
    5. They can travel up to almost 200 km/day and can run at speeds of up to 40 mph.
    6. It is said that they never forget. They are highly intelligent animals with a capacity for complex social structures, play, humor and even altruism. Studies also suggest that they are to some degree self-aware.  
    7. Baby elephants weigh 200-300 pounds and are called calves.
    8. Elephants can be left or right tusked, just as people can be left or right handed. 
    9. Communication over long distances use a sub-sonic rumble that other elephants receive through their feet and trunks.
    10. They are very social creatures. Males, when reaching adolescence, tend to join with other males or go off solo, living a more solitary existence than the females in the herd.
    11. Elephants migrate for food seasonally
    12. The average ear of a male African Elephant weighs over 100 pounds.
    13. Baby elephants are born blind.
    14. They spend up to 16 hours/day just eating
    15. Elephants drink 30-50 gallons of water every day.
    16. The tusk can weigh up to 22 pounds.and is worth $10,000-$15,000 on the black market.
    17. Their skin is over an inch thick but is highly sensitive.
    18. Babies suck their trunks, just like humans suck their thumbs.
    19. Trunks have 100,000 muscles and serve multiple purposes. They provide a way to breathe when crossing deep water; they are a tool used to pick things up; they are used to sense vibrations and communications; for smelling; and for vocalizing (trumpeting). 
    20. There are two types of African elephants: Bush and the Forest Elephant. The latter is smaller and founding West Africa.  

 

Elephant Conservancy in Africa

 

Roughly 100 elephants die each day at the hands of poachers (/www.conservationafrica.net).

Between 1010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory. 

Less than half a million African elephants remain in the wild. The majority–70%– live outside the protected areas, leaving them prime target for poachers.

Through Kristi Odom (Nikon Ambassador and leader of my photo safari in Tanzania) I learned of Ami Vitale’s work. Here is a moving video about the efforts at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya. The video is partly an ad for Nikon, but don’t let that put you off. (It just makes me want even more of their equipment, but then I’m becoming something of a junkie.)

This is a must see video. If you’d like more information, here is a link to Ami Vitale’s page. Her work is amazing.

 

 

More Reading on Africa

 

Lake Duluti: Settling Into Tanzania

An African Photo Safari With A Nikon Ambassador

Safari Clothes: Packing for Safari

An African Photo Safari: Photo Equipment Packing List

Visas and Vaccinations for Tanzania

 

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Elephant Love

 

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