The Endangered Elephant

Elephant, Africa, African Elephant

Being mammals , humans tend to have more passion and concern for other mammals, especially the ones that are endangered. Firstly, what mostly differs mammals from other animals is the existence of vertebrates in their anatomy, and how the females produce milk to feed the young, among other things. IUCN states there are about 1100 endangered or threatened mammal species, which makes roughly 20 percent of all mammals. That said, lets look at a few of the most endangered species of these on our planet.

There are two types of elephants, the main difference being the size, the African, which is bigger, and the Asian. The African, obviously, comes from Africa, and resides in all kinds of habitats, from dense forests, savannahs, through marshes, semidesserts, to grasslands and desserts. It feeds on a variety of plants, like grass, or leafs and twigs from trees, fruits when available. They show remarkable intelligence when feeding occasionally, knocking down trees to reach the to higher edible parts, or digging in search of roots or underground water. Due to this healthy digestion, they live around 60 years old in the wild, and even 80 in captivity. Their age can be determined by the amount of time their grinding teeth continue. Without them, the elephant can’t chew his food, and will die.

The Decrease in the African elephants population is due to three different factors:
1) the killing of elephants for their tusks(ivory), which is a highly valuable resource. This is the most influential factor on the decrease of their population.
2)desertification, a significant cause of the disappearance of not only elephants, but many different species also.
3) The most recent factor, which hasn’t been always about, the conflict between humans and elephants for land. This is a result of the gigantic growth of human population. Of course, there are quite a few other reasons, like the access to weapons, the apathy towards elephants because they sometimes destroy plants, territorial wildlife authorities and many more, but these three are the significant ones.

The Asian elephants are smaller then their relatives in Africa. They reside in higher regions and altitudes, like hills and mountains, even to 3600 m high, in habitats such as thick jungles or plains with grass. It can be found in places like the Himalayas, mountains of China, Sri Lanka, Indo-Burma, India and Indo-china. This is most likely because they are still to young or weak to contribute to the reproduction and bringing older females, which reach their sexual maturity at age 9-12 years. The females always live in family groups which consist of mom, daughters, sisters and immature males, which usually has about 30-50 members, although there can be found groups with 100. They feed on grasses, bark, branches, flowers, fruits, and they dig roots like bamboo.

Due to the technological advances in the 19th century, which weren’t likely here, but came from overseas, the inhabitants of the Asian elephants severely dropped. Their feeding grounds were destroyed or taken by humans, that’s the biggest issue for the population. They were killed because they destroyed crops, and for their tusks. The females don’t have any tusks, so they weren’t killed for this reason, but extreme male hunting sometimes result in a disturbed and problematic female:male elephant ratio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *