The African elephant is a very large animal, in fact, it is the biggest land mammal. African elephants are very important to biodiversity. They help other species in many ways. For example, by eating trees and other plants they turn heavily wooded areas into open areas. They also dig up dry riverbeds to reach water and then other animals drink the water too.
These giant animals can weigh up to 5.4 tons or about 10,800 pounds! It has a huge, heavy gray-brown body with four fat legs and a short tail that has a hairy tip. It has a large head that has two huge ears, two small eyes, a trunk, and two big teeth called tusks. It has four toes on its front feet, but only three toes on its back feet. The African elephant doesn’t have very good eyesight. It uses its big ears for communication with lots of sound production and hearing. It also uses them to keep itself cool. The elephant’s trunk has two lobes and is the most delicate part of the animal’s body. The trunk is used for smelling, breathing, breaking sticks, drinking water, and more. They only have four grinding teeth. When these get worn out by the rough vegetation the elephants eat, they are replaced by the larger teeth in the back of the jaw.
Threats to Survival
The African elephant has become endangered. In part, this is due to all of the hunters killing them for their ivory tusks. Another reason why they are endangered is because much of their habitat has been cleared for settlement and farms.
You can help the African elephants by not buying anything made of ivory or by helping to stop global warming, which will help stop their habitat loss.
African elephants live in Africa, south of the Sahara desert in tropical forests, savannah areas, deserts, and of course, “African elephant wildlife reserves.” The reason some of them live in reserves is because of loss of habitat. Their habitat is disappearing because people want the land for houses and farms. And that is because of humans!
How We’re Helping
Here’s the deal. Many scientists have worked to save the African elephant. All trade in ivory and other elephant products
was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1989 although now a few countries are allowed to trade non-ivory elephant products. That's a good start, and here are other things that are being done to save the African elephants:
- Create reserves for African elephants to safely live in.
- Raise money for these reserves.
- Try to have a law created about not hunting African elephants.
- Try to fix up the African elephants natural habitats so they can go back.
So, even if you can only help with the second bullet, or even something I didn’t list, every little bit makes a difference.