There are four distinct species of Elephants roaming planet Earth today. In order of the smallest to largest they are:
- African Forest Elephant (Genus Loxodonta cyclotis)
- Asian Elephant(Genus:ephas maximus)
- Borneo Elephant (Genus: Elephas maximus borneensis)
- African Savanna Elephant (Genus:Loxodonta)
The Elephant’s ancestors came in all sizes and adapted to all climates.
Woolly Mammoths roamed Ontario up to 10,500 years ago at the end of the ice age. A small population survived on Wrangle Island in Alaska.
A mammoth tusk is on display at Joseph Brant Museum in Burlington.
It is believed that woolly mammoths evolved into the Asian Elephant. Indeed, videos of young Asian elephants sport a woolly scalp. Mastodons were another ice age species which lived in Ontario and ranged as far north to Alaska and the Yukon during the Ice Age.
Mammoths dined on grasses while Mastodons dined on trees.
Relatives such as Palaeoloxodon falconeri was a dwarf elephant about 95 cm tall at he shoulders and native to Sicily and Malta. The Mediterranean was 100 metres lower than today
The Columbian Mammoth was another spectacular Pleistocene Epoch ancestor that lived only in North America. It stood 14 metres tall at the shoulder. The tallest African Elephant on record was a puny 3.96 metres tall.
Amazing Elie facts:
- World’s largest land animal.
- Rarely get cancer.
- They use tools such as a twig to scratch their skin.
- Comfort each other
- Like humans, chimpanzees and dolphins including Orcas mourn their dead.
- Brain is three times larger than a human
- An elephant never forgets is so true. They can remember how to navigate across the Namibian desert to the next watering hole.
- Communicate silently over a 10-kilometer range
- Have a language
- Creative – paint and play music
- Live in social groups. recognize each member for life and form friendships.
- Like Orcas, the group is lead by the oldest female – the matriarch. Unlike Orcas, male elephants are forced to leave the herd as teenagers.
- Adult elephants have no natural predators.
- Use tools such as sticks to scratch themselves.
- Can walk as far as 195 kilometers per day although 25 is average.
- Can outrun the fastest human
- Can eat up to 300kg and drink 225 litres of water per day
- Their trunk is like a Swiss Army Knife
- How elephants migrated from Southern India across 53km of the Palk Straight to Sri Lanka is a mystery,
- Elephants digestive system is only 50% efficient forcing them to spend all day eating.
- Elephants get by on two hours of sleep per day.
The most touching story about humans and Elephants is the story of Lawrence Anthony and his wife Francoise. They are the owner of Thula Thula game reserve in Zululand South Africa. A cull left a group of elephants orphaned. Lawrence adopted the orphans against the wishes of the South African government. Over time the matriarchs accepted him as one of the herd.
On March 2, 2012, Lawrence died in Johannesburg – 78 of kilometres away from Thula Thula.
Two matriarchs lead their herds through the bush to Lawrence’s’ front door at Thula THula. They’ve held a vigil every year since then lining up in single file after for two days.
Obviously, the elephants can somehow detect when one of the herd dies. Could it be that we emit a unique low frequency message when we die which the elephants can hear?
I f you love elephants. What can you do?
- Watch elephant videos on YouTube.
- Learn about their plight
- Read Lawrence Anthony’s The Elephant Whisperer.
- Donate to an organization supporting Elephant conservation
- Take a vacation to Thailand and help out working with Elephants
Canada has over 30 species of whales including the Blue Whale.
Everyone loves whales. Every year we line up in BC, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to experience the magnificent creatures. We found out that taking tourists to see them was far more profitable and better for the ecosystem than hunting them for whale oil. The humpback population at Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island is on the rise. Problems exist with the Orcas in the Salish Sea due the lack of Chinook Salmon,
We human beings created initiatives to stop hunting whales which has been successful save the actions of Japan.
A similar initiative is desperately need to ensure our beloved Elephants are treasured and we human beings commit to do all we can to ensure elephants will always roam Planet Earth. The time is now to take the first step.