Thursday, June 07, 2007


The elephants are a family of pachyderm, and the only remaining family in the order Proboscidea in the class Mammalia. Elephantidae has three living species: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant , and the Asian Elephant .Other species have become extinct since the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, the Mammoth being the most famous of these.
Elephants are mammals, and the largest land animals alive today. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 120 kg . An elephant may live as long as 70 years, sometimes longer. The largest elephant ever recorded was shot in Angola in 1956. It was male and weighed about 12,000 kg ,with a shoulder height of 4.2m , a meter taller than the average male African elephant. The smallest elephants, about the size of a calf or a large pig, were a prehistoric variant that lived on the island of Crete until 5000 BC, possibly 3000 BC.
Elephants are symbols of wisdom in Asian cultures, and are famed for their exceptional memory and high intelligence, rivalled only by cetaceans and hominids.
Elephants are increasingly threatened by human intrusion. Between 1970 and 1989, the African elephant population plunged from 1.3 million to about 600,000 in 1989; the current population is estimated to be between 400,000 and 660,000. The elephant is now a protected species worldwide, with restrictions in place on capture, domestic use, and trade in products such as ivory. Elephants generally have no natural predators, although a pride of 32 specialized lions in Savuti, Chobe National Park, prey on elephants at night


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