The Elephant is a huge mammal and we offer the opportunity to see the two different species – the African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) and the Asian / Indian Elephant (Elephus Maximus). The African Elephant is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, whilst the Asian Elephant is found is South Asia and Southeast Asia. The elephant is recognised as the largest land mammal and is a very impressive beast, with male African Elephants often standing as high as 13 feet in height (4m) and weighing up to 1.5 tonnes (7,000kg).
The elephants is most notable due to their long trunk, which has many purposes, including breathing, drinking water and grasping objects to feed on (like our hands). Their main incisors develop into large tusks, which then effectively are used as weapons and as tools for moving objects and digging. Their huge ear flaps help to control their body temperature. The difference between African and Indian elephants is mainly their size with the former being larger with larger ears and concave backs, whilst the Asian elephants have smaller ears and convex or flat backs.
Elephants are herbivorous and can be found in different habitats including savannahs, forests, deserts and marshes and will invariably stay near water, where they will drink vast quantities each day. Due to their size the predators such as lions, tigers, hyenas and wild dogs will generally stay clear of adults but may occasionally target young elephants.
Elephants tend to live in large family groups (or herds), with females and their young often joining with other related females with their offspring. The lead female will often be the oldest and acts as the matriarch of the herd. The young calves in families are always the centre of attention and they will rely on their mothers for up to three years. Males tend to leave their family group when they reach puberty, and then may either live alone or join with other males to form a bachelor herd. These males then only tend to join back with a herd when they enter a state of increased testosterone and aggression known as musth and are looking to mate. Elephants have a long natural lifespan and can live up to 70 years in the wild. Elephants communicate with each other by touch, sight, smell and sound and use infra-sound, and seismic communication over long distances. They are recognised as an intelligent and emotive specie and show real empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind.
Africa – Chobe National Park (Botswana), Okavango Delta (Botswana), Kruger National Park (South Africa), Addo Elephant Park (South Africa), Masai Mara (Kenya), The Serengeti (Tanzania), The Selous & Ruaha (Tanzania), Luangwa Valley (Zambia), Lower Zambezi (Zambia), Liwonde National Park (Malawi)