How Can You Protect African Elephants?
The African Elephant is a large genus containing two living species, the African bush Elephant and the smaller African wild elephant. Both are herbivorous carnivores with black, tusked skin, although the African bush Elephant has slightly larger tusks. They range across a wide geographical area in central Africa, although they are known from the beaches of the Indian Ocean in the Western coast, and from Tanzania in the Eastern Cape. Both subspecies have adapted to different climates, with the African Elephants being cold-blooded and their Asian counterparts warm-blooded. In addition, they have adapted to both land and water, being capable of living in both dry and wet environments.
Characteristic of an African Elephant’s
The most recognizable characteristic of an African Elephant’s trunk is its massive size relative to its overall size, and despite its broad tusk the African Elephants are not only large, but also heavy. Its trunk has a complex configuration of branches and tendrils that grow together in a complex pattern, each serving a purpose in climbing and maintaining their body position while walking. There are thirty-three independently growing branch types in each trunk, with a further twenty sub-branches linked together by thin filaments which are branches themselves. This complex pattern in trunk growth helps the African Elephants to keep safe and secure in their natural environment, but also allows them the freedom to move about and take part in their daily lives.
Diet of The African Elephants
As is the case with most animals, the diet of the African Elephants varies from one area to another, with changes being more profound than those in other animals. The Elephant diet largely depends on the type of habitat they inhabit and the abundance of prey animals they wish to eat. The majority of African Elephants consume meat, including hooves, meat taken from the kill, antlers, horns, hooves and other hoof products, as well as plant material such as leaves and stems. Other foods include berries, fruits, seeds, leafy vegetables and tubers. Lesser animals, such as fish, are also eaten by the African Elephants, although they are rarely seen. Overall, the diet of the African Elephants is highly diverse, due to their vast range of dietary needs and opportunities.
- In comparison to other semi-domestic species in sub-Saharan Africa, the African Elephants has quite short lifespans in comparison to the other elephants; they reach maturity at age twelve years and gain independence at age fifteen.
- Unlike some other semi-domesticated species, however, the length of the gestation period of the African Elephants is between six to eight years, with females reaching sexual maturity at nearly fourteen years of age.
- In spite of these short lifespans, however, the species still survives throughout sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to a large amount of conservation work being carried out on the species.
There are many different subspecies of African Elephants, all with their own unique behavior, habitats, diet and genetic makeup. The three main subspecies are: the Nobile Tropical Forest Elephants, the Southern African Savanna Elephant and the Northern African Red Eared Elephant. Within these three subspecies, there are further subspecies and species that have been recently hybridized or are genetically closely related to each other. This diversity provides African Elephants with a wide variety of living conditions, allowing them to adapt to a number of environments ranging from grasslands, rainforests, deserts and lakesides to mountains and swamps.
Interest in Elephant Trophies
Poaching has been one of the main threats to African Elephants in recent times, largely due to the growing numbers of people in the area. poaching has led to a reduction in numbers and has been credited in part to the growth in interest in elephant trophies from sports trophies and the growing consumer demand for ivory in China. The increasing human population in areas surrounding the Savannas and Central Africa have also facilitated an increase in poaching activity as the people that live in these areas provide a valuable source of income to local communities. Many hunters from these regions to travel to the southern part of the country where they poach the elephants to make their ivory collections. These hunters often live in relative harmony with the local communities and do not cause any major disruption to the local economy, which in turn allows for increasing levels of ivory poaching.
Good Wildlife Populations is Important for African Elephants
Another challenge faced by the African Elephant is their vulnerability to poaching injuries and attacks by vehicles and wild animals. As a result of their slow reproduction rates and high mortality rates, elephant calves can quickly be orphaned after their mothers are killed by vehicles or wild animals. Maintainance of good wildlife populations is important for African Elephants; however, without a drastic reduction in poaching levels, it is unlikely that the long-term survival of these beautiful and unique animals will be possible. Effective partnerships between government, local communities, businesses and organisations working in the conservation of African Elephants is needed to guarantee a sustainable future for this incredible animal.
With a view to conserving African Elephants in the long term it is important that we, as a society, be prepared to make long-term commitment to conservation. There are many areas where African Elephants are vulnerable. By supporting organisations working towards conservancy of African Elephants we can work together towards a future where these animals can exist in their natural habitat. It is also important to ensure that responsible trade in ivory and other wildlife products does not continue unchecked. With strong and determined commitment from all stakeholders, it is possible for African Elephants to thrive and conservation success is guaranteed.
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