African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana
aka African Savanna Elephant. Appearance
One of Kenya's "Big Five" and the largest mammal in the world. They are found throughout Kenya, mostly in game parks, for protection from poachers. Not the same species as the Asian Elephant Longevity
After 22 months gestation, a single calf is born, weighing 19 stone (120kg). Births occur throughout the year. Elephants are at their most fertile between the ages of 25 and 45. The calves are cared for by their mother and other young females in the group, known as allomothers. Males grow to approximately 13' (4 metres) at the shoulder and weigh 1,000 stone (6,000kgs). Females grow to approximately 9' (2.6 metres) at the shoulder and weigh 500 stone (3,000kgs). They live for up to 60 years, due to their receiving 6 sets of teeth (one every 10 years), after which, they starve to death. They have four molars, for chewing, each weighing 11lb (5kg) and as they break down and fall out, new ones appear from behind. Predators
The African Bush Elephant has no regular predator, except man. Poaching in Kenya has decimated the Elephant population. One published report stated that between 1973 and 1989,the Elephant population of Kenya declined by 85%. In 2011, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki set 335 (five tons) of elephant tusks and 40,000 ivory carvings alight, in the first national celebration of African Elephant Law Enforcement Day. The massive haul of tusks was seized from smugglers in Singapore, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. Further reports stated that diplomatic bags had been siezed at Jomo Kenyatta Airport and ivory carving siezed, which formed part of the fire, started by the President in a corner of Nairobi National Park. In 2013, it was estimated that 38,000 African Elephants remain in Kenya and a census was being funded by Microsoft founder Paul Allen. Behaviour
African Elephant herds can number many dozen, although smaller herds of ten or twelve females, with one older female 'matriach' and a bull are more common. Bulls, without a herd, will often group together for company. Sometimes seen in multiple herds, numbering as many as 70, these herds meet up to form a clan.
A Bush Elephant's tusks are constantly growing, although they wear down with use. They weigh up to 100lbs (45kg) and a bull's can grow to 8ft (2.4 metres) long. They are not only used for fighting, but are useful tools for digging up sweet shoots and pushing over small trees. The Bush Elephant's tusks are curved forwards, while the African Forest Elephant's
grow straight downwards.
Its trunk features around 100,000 muscles and is extremely sensitive, enabling it to smell, drink and dust itself. It can also rip up large tree trunks, lifting over 650lbs (300kg) and is also a formidable weapon in a fight. Their trunks are handy tools for sucking up dust or water and spraying it over their hot bodies. Unlike Asian Elephants, African Elephants have two tips to their trunk ends, which are very versatile.
Eating all day, even in high temperatures, they wave their ears to cool the blood vessels running through them, radiating heat. As well as waving their ears, Elephants take dust and water baths to keep cool.
Bush Elephants walk on tip-toe..!! Their four, forward facing, toes (three, on the back feet) are downward pointed and the heel, rests on a large wedge of fatty tissue. In contrast, the African Forest Elephant has five toes on the front foot and four on the back. Pitted soles enable the Elephant to traverse most surfaces and the padded tissue above makes them extremely quiet.
African Bush Elephants have huge brains, weighing over 11 lb (5kg), are very clever and, grouped with man, apes and some dolphins, are amongst the world's most intelligent species.
They display a number of behavioural patterns, including grief, especially when one of their own dies, or they come across an Elephant skeleton. I have witnessed a whole herd, one at a time, touch the skull of a long-deceased Elephant. They also love to play and the young mimic their elders, displaying a sense of humour. Larger Elephants display logic, in uprooting shoots and felling trees. The old saying "an Elephant never forgets" is also very true and many stories support this. Diet
African Elephants are very adaptable in their diet, adapting to the region they are feeding in. They eat grass, leaves, bamboo, bark and roots. Elephants also eat crops (bananas and sugarcane), causing human-animal conflict with farmers. Adult Bush Elephants eat between 300 - 600 lbs (140 - 270 kg) of food per day, but they are only able to digest 40% of it properly, which is why they constantly eat, for up to 20 hours a day even in high temperatures. They also drink up to 50 gallons (180 litres) each day. Photographs
Photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara, Olare Orok Conservancy and Tsavo East National Park.