Information on Elephants Page 3


Elephant Information

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The proboscis, or trunk, is a fusion of the nose and upper lip, elongated and specialized to become the elephant's most important and versatile appendage.  Elephants use the trunk to eat, scratch, defend themselves and even communicate.


Networks of veins in the ears combined with customary flapping create effective cooling.  Asian elephants ears are shaped like India, and African elephants ears are shaped like Africa.

The Future of the Elephant

In the period from 1979-1989, the population was cut in half by ivory poaching.  By the late 1980's many of the mature breeding males had been wiped out.

In order to stop the illegal trade, the signatories of the CITES treaty (Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species) agreed a ban on the ivory trade in 1989.  Widespread reduction of poaching is being observed globally. However, the 22 month gestation period and long spacing between pregnancies makes the growth in numbers a slow one.  

In the long-term, the most persistent threat will arise from the competition for land, food and water, between man and elephant. In Africa the human population is expanding at an alarming rate, with numbers in countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia set to double by 2020. This will cause the elephants' range to steadily be eroded, increasing the conflict between elephants and people, especially when farmer's crops are at risk.


Popular Culture

Elephant lists comprising famous and historically significant elephants are very popular.  Elephant bones have inspired curiosity of young and old.  The character “Elephant Man” was recorded in a classic horror film.



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