Why does a thoroughbred horse have no tusks?


Poaching, ivory trade, habitat loss and hunting all endanger the elephants.

Elephants: The largest land animals on earth

Elephants are the largest land animals still alive. A calf weighs up to 100 kilograms at birth. Depending on the species, an elephant has an average weight of between two and five tons and a size of up to four meters. Three species of the proboscis still live today: The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) in Asia and in Africa the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana), as well as the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. The extinct early proboscis include, for example, the mastodon and various mammoth species that were also widespread in Europe and America.

The female leader leads the elephant herd

Savannah Elephant © Gabriel Johannes Huber

Elephants have a high level of intelligence, a literally good memory and a very pronounced social life. They live in matriarchy, which means that an experienced female leader leads a group of closely related animals, larger or smaller, depending on the food available.

Male offspring leave their birth herd after about ten years and then move around alone or in "groups of bulls". A male elephant has glands on its temples which, from sexual maturity, emit an oily secretion during so-called "musht". Elephants can live up to 70 years in nature.

The one created from the upper lip and nose is particularly striking Proboscis made up of around 40,000 different muscles. It is extremely sensitive and agile and is not only used for smelling, drinking and touching, but also for establishing contact and as a grasping organ to reach leaves and branches on trees or to tear off tufts of grass. The huge ears (especially with African savanna elephants) are used for cooling. Elephants have an excellent sense of smell and very good hearing. You can communicate over long distances using very deep tones that humans cannot hear.

The tusks perform important functions

Savannah Elephant © Martin Harvey

Elephants have two types of teeth: the enormously elongated upper incisors, which have been converted into tusks, and four brick-sized molars. The two tusks grow lifelong and, in extreme cases, can weigh more than 100 kilos in old bulls. They are used for digging for water sources and minerals and in rank fights.

While both sexes of the two African elephant species have tusks, only some of the males of the Asian elephants do. Presumably due to the high selection pressure due to the ivory poaching that has been rampant in Asia for thousands of years, many bull elephants today develop no or only very small tusks.

An adult animal eats up to 170 kg of greens per day and needs 70-150 liters of water. The approximately two quintals of manure that an animal produces per day is an excellent breeding ground for excreted seeds. The animals are important landscapers, spreading seeds from trees and other plants over long distances and keeping open savannas and forest clearings that are used by many animals. On their mostly leisurely hikes between pasture and water grounds, African savanna elephants can cover distances of up to 100 kilometers per day. In extreme situations they can reach speeds of up to 40 km / h.

Elephants are threatened giants

Asian elephants © Elephant Transit Home

On the Red List of Threatened Animal Species, Asian elephants and African wild elephants are threatened with extinction; there are only a few ten thousand animals left of both species. The African savannah elephant is endangered, around 350,000 animals still live on it. In Africa in particular, poaching is the greatest threat to the ivory trade, around 20,000 animals are killed there every year. In addition, human activities such as arable and settlement construction, cattle breeding, deforestation and the mining of raw materials as well as the cutting of hiking routes through the construction of roads and railways make the habitat of the proboscis ever smaller. Especially in Asia, habitats for elephants have become rare.

Pro Wildlife has been committed to protecting elephants since it was founded. We fight against the ivory trade and poaching and are committed to strict legal protection of all elephants. Pro Wildlife supports two elephant orphanages in Africa and Asia, the EAGLE network, which takes action against illegal trade, and projects on the coexistence of humans and elephants. » Pro Wildlife Elephant Conservation Program

More information

Elephant Conservation Program

We help the elephants, fight against ivory trade and abuse as a mount or leisure activity for tourists.

» Elephant Conservation Program

Elephant Conservation Project Tanzania

Elephants are not afraid of mice, they are afraid of bees. The Southern Tanzania Elephant Program (STEP), supported by Pro Wildlife, uses this to resolve the conflict between farmers and elephants by providing beehives.

» Elephant Conservation Project Tanzania

Elephant Orphanage Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, more than 200 elephants die by human hands each year. What remains are often helpless young animals that have no chance of survival without human help. If they are found in time, these animals will be brought to the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe in southern Sri Lanka.

» Elephant Orphanage Sri Lanka

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