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elephant

elephant, largest living land mammal, found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. Elephants have massive bodies and heads, thick, pillarlike legs, and broad, short padded feet, with toes bearing heavy, hooflike nails. The gray skin is loose, tough, thick, and nearly hairless. The slender tail ends in a tuft of hair. The upper lip and nose are elongated into a flexible trunk, or proboscis, reaching nearly to the ground; this sensitive appendage is used for picking up food, feeding from trees and other sources, and drawing up water. Elephants drink by sucking water into the trunk and squirting it into the mouth; they also use the trunk to spray themselves with water and with dust. The trunk produces a variety of noises, including a loud trumpeting. African elephants also have been shown to use infrasonic frequencies (those below the range of human hearing) for communication. The large, thin, floppy ears provide an extensive cooling surface; the animal flaps its ears vigorously when it is overheated. The upper incisor teeth are elongated into tusks—highly valued for their ivory—which the animal uses for digging up roots and tubers. A gland between the eye and the ear periodically produces an oily substance called musth; during these periods the animal is in an excitable, dangerous condition, also called musth, meaning madness. Such a condition occurs more often in males than in females and is thought to be a state of sexual excitement.

Elephants are browsing animals, feeding on fruits, leaves, shoots, and tall grasses; they consume hundreds of pounds of food a day and drink up to 50 gal (190 liters) of water. They have no fixed living place, but travel about in herds of up to 100 animals, led by a young, strong male and including young bulls (males), cows (females), and calves. Old males are generally solitary or live in small groups. A rogue elephant is a solitary old male that has become violent and dangerous. During the mating season, elephant pairs may live away from the herd for a few weeks. A single calf is born after a gestation of 18 to 22 months and is nursed for 5 years. Elephants reach maturity at between 15 and 25 years of age; their lifespan is usually 60 or 70 years. Elephants walk at a pace of about 4 mi (6.4 km) per hr, but can charge at speeds of 30 mi (48 km) per hr. They cannot jump and so cannot pass barriers too wide or too high to step over; they swim well, however.

Indian and African Elephants

There are at least two species: the Indian elephant, Elephas maximus, found in India and SE Asia, and the African elephant, Loxodonta africana, found in Africa S of the Sahara. Recent evidence appears to indicate that African forest elephants are a genetically distinct, physically smaller species, L. cyclotis, from the larger African elephants found on the savannas. The largest African bull elephants may reach a shoulder height of 13 ft (4 m) and weigh 6 to 8 tons (5,400–7,200 kg). Their tusks are more than 10 ft (3 m) long and weigh up to 200 lbs (90 kg) each. Females are somewhat smaller and have more slender tusks. African elephants have enormous ears, measuring up to 42 in. (107 cm) in diameter. The long, conspicuously wrinkled trunk terminates in two fleshy, fingerlike protuberances, used for handling objects. African forest elephants are several feet shorter and weigh about half as much as savanna elephants. The Indian bull elephant reaches about 9 ft (2.7 m) in shoulder height and weighs about 3.5 tons (3200 kg); its tusks are up to 6 ft (180 cm) long. The female of this species has no tusks. The ears of the Indian elephant are much smaller than in the African species, and the trunk somewhat shorter and smoother, ending in a single protuberance.

Elephants and Humans

Elephants are regarded as among the most intelligent of mammals and can be trained to work and to perform. Indian elephants are extensively used as beasts of burden, especially in teak forests, where they carry logs with their trunks. They are not considered truly domesticated as they do not breed well in captivity; young animals are captured from the wild. Training and handling take skill, as elephants have complex emotions and vary individually in temperament. Ancient Indian kings used elephants in battle at least as early as the 4th cent. BC African elephants are often said to be less tractable, but they too were formerly used for work, as well as for warfare. Hannibal's army crossed the Alps using African elephants, which were at that time probably found in the Atlas Mts. Elephants seen in zoos and circuses are usually of the Indian species, although the famous Jumbo, who toured the United States in the late 19th cent. giving rides to children, was an African elephant. In Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), so-called white elephants have long been revered; these animals are not truly white but have unusual light-colored skin and other characteristics. Elephants have been extensively hunted for food and for ivory, and their numbers are now greatly reduced. Despite protections in certain areas and a treaty banning the international ivory trade, elephant poaching remains a severe problem, due especially to surging demand from China in the early 21st cent.

Classification

Elephants are the only living representatives of their order, which was once widespread over most of the world; it included the mammoth and the mastodon. Elephants are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Proboscidae, family Elephantidae.

Bibliography

See I. Douglas-Hamilton and O. Douglas-Hamilton, Among the Elephants (1978); R. Sukamar, The Asian Elephant (1989); C. Bosman, Elephants of Africa (1989); S. Alexander, The Astonishing Elephant (2000).

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elephant

elephant the elephant is the largest living land animal, and is taken as a type of something of great size and weight. The Indian elephant was traditionally used as a beast of burden and in the ancient world (as, notably, by Hannibal when he crossed the Alps in 219–18 bc) as a mount in war.

Elephant is also used for a size of paper, typically 28 × 23 inches (approximately 711 × 584 mm).

In the US, the elephant is the emblem of the Republican Party.

The word is recorded from Middle English, and comes via Old French and Latin from Greek elephas, elephant- ‘ivory, elephant’.
Elephant and Castle a public-house sign which has given its name to the main crossroads of Southwark in London; it is popularly said to be a corruption of Infanta de Castile, but in fact is probably adopted from the arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, whose trade included the importation of elephants' tusks (in heraldry, the elephant is shown with a crenellated round tower on its back).
elephant in the room an unwelcome fact which is not directly referred to but of which everyone is aware. The term is recorded from the 1980s, as in An Elephant in the Living Room (1984), title of a book presenting alcoholism as an unmentionable family problem. Other variants include moose on the table.
Elephant Man the nickname of Joseph Carey Merrick (1862–90), who as a result of what is now thought to be Proteus syndrome had an enormous head with bone protruding from his forehead and mouth, and folds of spongy flesh covered with skin resembling a cauliflower hanging from his head, chest, and back.
elephants' graveyard a repository for unwanted goods, from the belief (recorded from the early 20th century) that elephants in the wild seek out a particular spot in which to die, where their remains then lie.
Order of the Elephant the highest Danish order of knighthood. It was first founded in the 12th century. The Order was originally associated with an Order dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with a medallion of the Virgin and a smaller medallion with three nails of the Cross, on a chain of alternate elephants and spurs.
see the elephant (in the US) see the world, get experience of life; an elephant is taken here as the type of something remarkable (compare see the lions).

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elephant

elephant Largest land animal, the only surviving member of the mammal order Proboscidea, which included the mammoth and the mastodon. It is native to Africa (Loxodonta africana) and India (Elephas maximus). The tusks, the source of ivory, are elongated upper incisors. The Indian cow (female) elephant has no tusks. The trunk is an elongated nose and upper lip that it uses for drinking and picking up food. The African elephant is taller and heavier than the Indian. A bull (male) elephant may weigh as much as 7000kg (eight tonnes), and can charge at speeds up to 40km/h (25mph). It also has much larger ears, up to 100cm (40in) in diameter. Elephants are herbivores and browse in herds led by a bull. The cow (female) gives birth to its calf after 18 to 22 months gestation. Elephants live for 60 to 70 years. Indian elephants are used as beasts of burden but do not breed in captivity. The hunting of elephants for their tusks saw the population reduce from 1.3 million in 1979 to 600,000 in 1989. A ban on hunting led to a resurgence.

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Elephantidae

Elephantidae (order Proboscidea, suborder Gomphotherioidea) A family than comprises the ancestral and modern elephants. They can be traced back to the Miocene (Stegolophodon) and are distinct from the superficially similar mastodons (Mammutidea). In living species the incisors grow to tusks in the upper jaw only; other incisors and canines are absent. Three milk premolars and three molars are present. Only one tooth in each half-jaw is used at a time; it is shed when worn and replaced by the tooth behind it, which moves forward. The skull is short, the nasal aperture high in the face, the proboscis long and muscular, with nostrils at its end. The limbs end in short hoofs; the gait is digitigrade. The family is distributed throughout Africa south of the Sahara, and southern Asia. The family includes the extinct Mammuthus (mammoth) and three surviving species: Elephas maximus (Asian elephant), Loxodonta africana (African elephant), and Loxodonta cyclotis (African forest elephant).

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elephant

elephant XIII. ME. olif(a)unt, -ont, later (XIV) with assim. to L., elifant, etc. — OF. olifant, elefant (mod. éléphant) — Rom. *olifantus (cf. OE. olfend, Goth. ulbandus camel), alt. of L. elephantus (whence OE. elpend) — Gr. eléphās, elephant- ivory, elephant, of unkn. orig.
So elephantiasis skin disease resembling an elephant's hide. XVI. elephantine XVII. — L. — Gr.

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elephant

el·e·phant / ˈeləfənt/ • n. (pl. same or elephants ) a heavy plant-eating mammal (family Elephantidae, order Proboscidea) with a prehensile trunk, long curved ivory tusks, and large ears, native to Africa and southern Asia. It is the largest living land animal.

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elephant

elephant See ELEPHANTIDAE;PROBOSCIDEA.

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elephant

elephantabeyant, mayn't •ambient, circumambient •gradient, irradiant, radiant •expedient, ingredient, mediant, obedient •valiant • salient • resilient • emollient •defoliant • ebullient • suppliant •convenient, intervenient, lenient, prevenient •sapient •impercipient, incipient, percipient, recipient •recreant • variant • miscreant •Orient • nutrient •esurient, luxuriant, parturient, prurient •nescient, prescient •omniscient • insouciant • renunciant •officiant • negotiant • deviant •subservient • transient •affiant, Bryant, client, compliant, defiant, giant, pliant, reliant •buoyant, clairvoyant, flamboyant •fluent, pursuant, truant •affluent • effluent • mellifluent •confluent • circumfluent • congruent •issuant • continuant • constituent •lambent • absorbent •incumbent, recumbent •couchant • merchant • hadn't •ardent, guardant, regardant •pedant •appendant, ascendant, attendant, codependent, defendant, descendant, descendent, intendant, interdependent, pendant, pendent, splendent, 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imminent •dominant, prominent •illuminant, ruminant •determinant • abstinent •continent, subcontinent •appurtenant, impertinent, pertinent •revenant •component, deponent, exponent, opponent, proponent •oppugnant, repugnant •immanent •impermanent, permanent •dissonant • consonant • alternant •covenant • resonant • rampant •discrepant • flippant • participant •occupant • serpent •apparent, arrant, transparent •Arendt •aberrant, deterrent, errant, inherent, knight-errant •entrant •declarant, parent •grandparent • step-parent •godparent •flagrant, fragrant, vagrant •registrant • celebrant • emigrant •immigrant • ministrant • aspirant •antiperspirant • recalcitrant •integrant • tyrant • vibrant • hydrant •migrant, transmigrant •abhorrent, torrent, warrant •quadrant • figurant • obscurant •blackcurrant, concurrent, currant, current, occurrent, redcurrant •white currant • cross-current •undercurrent •adherent, coherent, sederunt •exuberant, protuberant •reverberant • denaturant •preponderant • deodorant •different, vociferant •belligerent, refrigerant •accelerant • tolerant • cormorant •itinerant • ignorant • cooperant •expectorant • adulterant •irreverent, reverent •nascent, passant •absent •accent, relaxant •acquiescent, adolescent, albescent, Besant, coalescent, confessant, convalescent, crescent, depressant, effervescent, erubescent, evanescent, excrescent, flavescent, fluorescent, immunosuppressant, incandescent, incessant, iridescent, juvenescent, lactescent, liquescent, luminescent, nigrescent, obsolescent, opalescent, pearlescent, phosphorescent, pubescent, putrescent, quiescent, suppressant, tumescent, turgescent, virescent, viridescent •adjacent, complacent, obeisant •decent, recent •impuissant, reminiscent •Vincent • puissant •beneficent, maleficent •magnificent, munificent •Millicent • concupiscent • reticent •docent •lucent, translucent •discussant, mustn't •innocent •conversant, versant •consentient, sentient, trenchant •impatient, patient •ancient • outpatient •coefficient, deficient, efficient, proficient, sufficient •quotient • patent •interactant, reactant •disinfectant, expectant, protectant •repentant • acceptant •contestant, decongestant •sextant •blatant, latent •intermittent •assistant, coexistent, consistent, distant, equidistant, existent, insistent, persistent, resistant, subsistent, water-resistant •instant •cohabitant, habitant •exorbitant • militant • concomitant •impenitent, penitent •palpitant • crepitant • precipitant •competent, omnicompetent •irritant • incapacitant • Protestant •hesitant • visitant • mightn't • octant •remontant • constant •important, oughtn't •accountant • potent •mutant, pollutant •adjutant • executant • disputant •reluctant •consultant, exultant, resultant •combatant • omnipotent • impotent •inadvertent •Havant, haven't, savant, savante •advent •irrelevant, relevant •pursuivant • solvent • convent •adjuvant •fervent, observant, servant •manservant • maidservant •frequent, sequent •delinquent • consequent •subsequent • unguent • eloquent •grandiloquent, magniloquent •brilliant • poignant • hasn't •bezant, omnipresent, peasant, pheasant, pleasant, present •complaisant • malfeasant • isn't •cognizant • wasn't • recusant •doesn't

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Elephant

ELEPHANT

Archaeological finds of ivory objects made from elephant tusks have been found in Israel dating back to prehistoric and Chalcolithic times. It is assumed that wild elephants were still present in Syria during the second and first millennia b.c.e. until they were hunted to extinction. Alternatively, they may have been imported there from India (Elephas maximus) for the purposes of royal hunting, but this seems less likely. Thutmoses iii is recorded as having hunted elephants during his campaign in Syria in the 15th century b.c.e.: "He [Thutmoses iii] hunted 120 elephants at their mud hole. Then the biggest elephant began to fight before his Majesty. I [Amenen-heb] was the one who cut off his hand while he was still alive, in the presence of his Majesty, while I was standing in the water between two rocks. Then my Lord rewarded me…." The lower jaws of elephants have been discovered in mid-second millennium deposits during archaeological excavations at the site of Atchana-Alalakh in Syria. While the elephant itself is not mentioned in the Bible, its ivory tusks (Shenhabbim) were brought from Ophir for Solomon (i Kings 10:22; ii Chron. 9:21). The word "shenhav" means the tooth (shen) of the elephant (ev in Egyptian, hence the name of the island Yev (Jab) – *Elephantine). The word shen also signifies ivory, from which Solomon made his throne, overlaying it with gold (i Kings 10:18). The Bible also mentions "horns of ivory," "houses of ivory," "beds of ivory," and "ivory palaces" (Ezek. 27:15; Amos 3:15; 6:4; Ps. 45:9). Reference is likewise made to "the ivory house" which Ahab built (i Kings 22:39), the reference being to a house containing ivory vessels and ornaments. An examination of the ivory vessels, ornaments, and images uncovered at Megiddo and in Samaria shows that they were made from the African elephant Loxodonta africana (= Elephas africanus). Elephants were employed by Darius in his battle against Alexander the Great. At a later date, elephants were introduced into Ereẓ Israel being used for military purposes in the Syrian-Greek army (i Macc. 8:6; ii Macc. 13:15). It was under one of these elephants that Eleazar the Hasmonean was crushed to death (i Macc. 6:43–46). A painting of an elephant appears on the walls of a Sidonian tomb found at Marissa (Maresha). In mishnaic times, elephants were kept in some rich homes and the baraita deals with tasks carried out for its master by an elephant (Er. 31b). It is stated that the elephant feeds on branches and is rarely to be seen (tj, Shab. 18:1, 16c). On seeing an elephant one recites the blessing, "Blessed is He who makes strange creatures" (Ber. 58b). The elephant's period of gestation was said to be three years (Bek. 8a); it is now known, however, to be 18–22 months only.

bibliography:

H.B. Tristram, The Natural History of the Bible (1883), 81–83; F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal Life in Biblical Lands: From the Stone Age to the Nineteenth Century, vol. 2 (1956), 375–77; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 48. add. bibliography: F.E. Zeuner, A History of Domesticated Animals (1963), 275–98; A. Houghton Brodrick, Animals in Archaeology (1972); R.D. Barnett, Ancient Ivories in the Middle East, in: Qedem, 14 (1982); O. Borowski, Every Living Thing: Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel (1998), 193–95.

[Jehuda Feliks /

Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]

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Elephant

Elephant ★★★ 2003 (R)

Made for HBO film depicting a day in the life at a typical American high school that ends in tragedy. Film lazily follows a number of the banal goings-on of various students before wandering to a shocking climax involving the violence of a Columbine-type massacre by two young social outcasts. The motivation of killers Alex and Eric (Frost and Deulen) isn't explored but merely offered up as fact, save a few shots of the boys watching a documentary about Hitler and sharing a brief kiss. Mainly utilizing non-actors and a largely improvised script, Van Sant genuinely imparts the reality of high school life in modern day America without trying to explain it but creates a sense of detachment from the characters and subject matter along the way. 81m/C VHS, DVD . US Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Nathan Tyson, Carrie Finklea, Kristen Hicks, Jordan Taylor, Nicole George, Brittany Mountain, Timothy Bottoms, Matt Malloy; D: Gus Van Sant; W: Gus Van Sant; C: Harris Savides. Cannes '03: Director (Van Sant), Film. CABLE

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Elephant

Elephant

Evolution

Body

Limbs

Head

Mouth and trunk

Teeth

Ears

Eyes

Social behavior

Group structure

Mating

Communication

Death

Habitat and food

The future

Resources

Elephants are large, four-legged, herbivorous mammals. They have a tough, almost hairless hide, a long flexible trunk, and two ivory tusks growing from their upper jaw. Twoor, according to some elephant specialists, threespecies of elephant exist today, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana )andtheAsianor Indian elephant (Elephas maximus ). There are two sub-species of African elephant, the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana africana ) and the African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis ), but scientists increasingly believe that the African forest elephant should be treated as a separate species (Loxodonta cyclotis ).

African elephants are the largest of all land animals, weighing up to 5 tons. Bush elephants inhabit grassland and savanna, while forest elephants live in tropical rainforest. Asian elephants are widely domesticated, with the few surviving wild elephants living mainly in forest and woodland. Field workers have differing opinions of the life span of elephants, some estimating between 60 and 80 years while others suggesting more than 100 years.

Evolution

Elephants are placed within the suborder Elephantoidea, in the order Proboscidea. The first identifiable ancestors of todays elephants were small animals that lived 5070 million years ago and stood about 2 ft (0.75 m) tall. The suborder Elephantoidea originated in North Africa long before that region became extensively desertified, and from there elephants spread to every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The group once included three families, several genera, and hundreds of species. Mammoths and mastodons also belonged to the sub-order Elephantoidea, but these species became extinct about 10, 000 years ago.

About 400, 000 years ago Asian elephants inhabited a much wider range than they do today, including Africa. This species now survives only in southern Asia, from India to Sumatra and Borneo. The single species of Asian elephant has three subspecies: Elephas maximus maximus of Sri Lanka, E. m. indicus of India, Indochina, and Borneo, and E. m. sumatranus of Sumatra. African elephants only ever existed in Africa, appearing in the fossil record about four million years ago. As recently as only a hundred years ago, some 10 million African elephants inhabited that continent. By 1999, however, their numbers were reduced by overhunting to only about 300, 000.

Body

Asian and African elephants can be distinguished by the shape of their backs, the Asian having a convex, gently sloping back and the African a concave or saddle-shaped one. Male elephants (or bulls) are much larger than females (cows), being 2040% taller and up to 70% heavier. The average African adult bull weighs about 5 tons and measures about 8 ft (2.4 m) to the shoulder. The largest elephant on record was a magnificent bull, now mounted as a specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC, standing a massive 13 ft 2 in (4 m) at the shoulder.

Skin texture varies from the tough, thick, wrinkled, folds on the back and forehead, to the soft, thinner, pliable skin of the breast, ears, belly, and underside of the trunk. The tough skin bears a few, scattered, bristly hairs, while the thinner skin on the trunk, chin, ear rims, eyelids, knees, wrists, and tip of the tail has somewhat thicker hair. Daily skin care includes showers, dusting with sand, and full-bodied mud-packs which are later rubbed off against a tree or boulder, removing dead skin as well. These activities help to keep the skin moist, supple, protected from the sun and insects, and also aid in keeping the animal cool.

Limbs

Supporting the elephants massive body are four sturdy, pillarlike legs. Although the back legs are slightly longer than the front legs, the high shoulder makes the forelimbs look longer. The back legs have knees with kneecaps, while the front leg joints are more like wrists. Elephants kneel on their wrists, stand upright on their back legs, sit on their haunches,

and can be trained to balance on their front feet. The feet have thick, spongelike pads with ridged soles that act as shock absorbers and climbing boots, helping these sure-footed animals to ascend embankments and negotiate narrow pathways with amazing dexterity. The African species has four toenails on its round front feet, and three on its oval-shaped back feet; the Asian species has five toes on the front feet and four on the back feet. In spite of their size, elephants can move quickly, but cannot make sustained runs, as all four feet are never off the ground at one time. Elephants often doze on their feet, but sleep lying down for about one to three hours at night.

Head

Elephants have a large skull which supports the massive weight of their tusks. The size and shape of the skull helps distinguish between African and Asian elephants and between females and males. Asian elephants have a high, dome-shaped forehead while African elephants display a lower, more gently angled forehead. Heads of the males are larger in both species. Also in both species, the neck is short, making the head relatively immobile. To see behind, elephants must move their entire body. They display excited, restless behavior and turn quickly when detecting unfamiliar sounds or smells from the rear.

Mouth and trunk

Elephants have a small mouth and a large, mobile tongue which cannot extend past the short lower lip. Contributing to the elephants unique appearance is its long, strong, flexible trunk, which is a fusion and elongation of the nose and upper lip. The trunk, with no bones and more than 100, 000 muscles, is so strong and flexible it can coil like a snake around a tree and uproot it. At the end of this mighty limb, which trails on the ground unless curled up at the end, are two nostrils and flexible fingerlike projections. The tip is so sensitive and dexterous it can wipe a grain of sand from the elephants eye and detect delicate scents blowing in the breeze. Using this remarkable appendage, an elephant can feed by plucking grass from the ground, or foliage from a tree, placing it in its mouth. Water drawn up the trunk may be squirted into the mouth for drinking, or sprayed over the body for bathing and cooling. Loud trumpeting sounds and soft, affectionate murmurs can echo through the trunk. The trunk is also used to tenderly discipline, caress, and guide young offspring, to stroke the mate, to fight off predators, and to push over trees during feeding. The trunk is clearly an essential organ. It is also sometimes the object of attack by an enemy, and damage to it causes extreme pain and can lead to death.

Teeth

The tusks of elephants begin as two front teeth which drop out after about a year. In their place grow ivory tusks that eventually protrude from beneath the upper lip. The tusks of female Asian elephants, however, remain short and are barely visible. Male African elephants grow the largest tusks, the longest recorded measuring approximately 137 in (348 cm) and weighing over 220 lb (100 kg) each. Today, however, tusks are much smaller in wild elephants because most of the older animals have been slaughtered for their ivory. Although there are variations, the long, cylindrical tusks grow in a gradual upward curve, somewhat resembling the sliver of a new moon. Elephants use their tusks as weapons in combat, and to dig up roots, strip bark off trees, lift objects, and (for females) to establish feeding dominance. Tusks continue to grow throughout an animals life at an average of about 5 in (12.7 cm) a year; however, their length is not an accurate measure of the animals age, as the tips wear and break with daily use and during combat.

Elephants have large, grinding, molar teeth which masticate (chew and grind) their plant diet with a backward-forward jaw action. These teeth fall out when worn down, and are replaced by new, larger teeth. During its lifetime, an elephant may grow 24 of these large molar teeth, each weighing up to 9 lb (4 kg) in older animals. Only four teeth, two on each side of the jaw, are in use at any one time. As the teeth wear down, they move forward; the new teeth grow from behind and the worn teeth drop out. This pattern repeats up to six times over the elephants lifetime, and the most common method of determining an elephants age is by tooth and jaw examination. Once all of its teeth have fallen out, an elephant can no longer chew its food, and will soon die.

Ears

One astute elephant observer noted that the ears of Asian elephants are shaped like India, and African elephants like Africa! The ears of African elephants are much larger than those of Asian elephants, and the ears of the African bush elephants are larger than those of the forest elephants. African elephants cool themselves off by fanning with their ears and, conversely, in extreme cold elephants must increase their activity level to produce enough body heat to prevent their ears being frostbitten. Elephants have a keen sense of hearing, and spread their ears wide to pick up distant sounds; the spread-out ears also intimidate enemies by making the elephants appear larger.

Eyes

The eyes of elephants are about the same size as a humans. The eyes are usually dark brown, with upper and lower lids, and long eyelashes on the upper lid. With one eye on either side of their head elephants have a wide visual field, although their eyesight is relatively poor, particularly in bright sunlight.

Social behavior

Few animals other than humans have a more complex social network than elephants, which field biologists are just beginning to decipher. These outgoing, emotionally demonstrative animals rarely fight among themselves and peacefully coexist with most other animals. Elephants give and receive love, care intensely for their young, grieve deeply for their dead, get angry, show fear, and are thought to be more intelligent than any other animals except the higher primates.

Group structure

Each elephant troop has its own home range, but territorial fights are rare even though ranges often overlap. While several hundred elephants may roam a similar range, small kin groups form between female relatives. The leader of each group is a respected older female with years of accumulated knowledge. This matriarch is the mother and grandmother of other members but sometimes allows her sisters and their offspring to join the group. Once a male reaches maturity, he is forced to leave. The entire group looks to the matriarch for guidance, particularly in the face of danger. Her actions, based on her superior knowledge, will determine whether the group flees or stands its ground. Young members learn from their elders how to find water and food during drought, when to begin travel and where to go, and many other survival skills. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation.

Once a male elephant reaches sexual maturity at 12 years or older, the matriarch no longer tolerates him in the group. He will then live mostly alone or perhaps join a small, loosely knit group of other males. Bull elephants seldom form long-term relationships with other males, but often one or two young males accompany an old bull, perhaps to learn from him. Bulls often spar with each other to establish a dominance hierarchy. Elephants have an excellent memory; once a social hierarchy is established, the same two elephants not only recognize each other, even after many years, but know which one is dominant. This way, they avoid fighting again to reestablish dominance. After about 25 years of age, male elephants experience annual periods of heightened sexuality called musth, which lasts about a week in younger animals and perhaps three or four months as they near their 50s. During this time they aggressively search out females and challenge other bulls, sometimes even causing more dominant males to back down. Different bulls come into musth at different times of the year; however, two well-matched bulls in musth may fight to the death.

Mating

Female elephants come into estrus (heat), marking ovulation and the ability to get pregnant, for only a few days each year. Because the mating season is short, mature female elephants are never far from adult males. The scent of a female elephant in estrus attracts male bulls. A receptive female will hold her head high, producing a low, rumbling invitation as she leaves her group and runs quickly across the plains chased by the bulls. It appears she actually chooses her mate, for she seldom stops for a young bull but slows down for a larger, dominant male who, once she allows him to catch her, gently rests his trunk across her back in a caress. They may mate several times, and he may stay with her until the end of her estrus, warding off other bulls and fighting if necessary. She may, however, mate with others. Because males play no part in raising the young and are not needed to protect the mother or baby, their role appears to be purely reproductive.

At the end of estrus, the cow returns to her group and the male goes off in search of another mate. The gestation period of female elephants lasts for 22 months, longer than any other animal. Pregnancies are spaced from three to nine years apart. There is usually only one offspring, but twin births do occur and both calves may survive under favorable conditions. There is much excitement in the group during a birth, and another female almost always tends to the birthing mother. An adult female and her sexually immature offspring are a family unit within the group. However, females assist each other in raising the young, with one mother even sometimes nursing the calf of another. In general, females reach sexual maturity between the age of 12 to 15 years and, over the course of 60 years, will bear from five to 15 offspring.

Communication

Elephants teach and learn by behavioral examples and talk with vocalized sounds that can be described as screams, trumpets, growls, and rumbles. Originating from the throat or head, these calls can signal danger and express anger, joy, sadness, and sexual invitation. An animal separated from its family will make contact rumbles, which are low, vibrating sounds that can be heard at great distances. Once reunited, the family engages in a greeting ceremony, reserved strictly for close relatives, in which excited rumbling, trumpeting, touching of trunks, urinating, and defecating occurs. Vocal sounds range from high-pitched squeaks to extremely powerful infrasonic sounds of a frequency much lower than can be heard by the human ear.

Death

Elephants mourn deeply for their dead and often cover them with leaves, dirt, and grass. An animal will stand over the body of a dead loved one, gently rocking back and forth as other animals caress the mourner with their trunks. One field-biologist watching such a display wrote: This isnt just a dead elephant; it is a living elephants dead relative or friend.

Habitat and food

Because of their high intelligence level, elephants can adapt to and modify habitat, while their wide range of food choices permits habitation of a diverse range of ecosystems, including forest, woodland, savanna, grassy plains, swampy areas, and sparsely vegetated desert. Unfortunately, because of massive poach-ing for ivory and the destruction of much of the elephants natural habitat, most African elephants are now restricted to the protection of national parks. Not so long ago, however, they freely followed age-old seasonal migration routes from one habitat to another.

Elephants need massive quantities of food, perhaps 300350 lb (136159 kg) a day, although proportional to their body-weight elephants eat less than mice. The diet of elephants includes roots, bark, grass, leaves, berries, seedpods, and other fruits. Elephants will uproot trees to obtain tasty treats from the top, or delicately pluck a single berry from a branch. Elephants never roam far from water, and will travel great distances in search of it. They may drink up to 50 gal (189 l) of water a day, and after drinking their fill, will splash themselves with water and mud, wash their young, and sometimes just frolic, tossing and squirting water about while their young splash, play, and roll in the mud. Surprisingly, populations of these water-loving creatures may inhabit desert areas, using their tusks and trunk to dig for water under dry riverbeds. The knowledge of where to find water is handed down from one generation to another.

The future

Only a few surviving elephant herds remain in the wild. In Asia, elephants are venerated. However, they are also highly valued as domestic animals for work and transport and most tamed animals must be captured from the wild (although there has been recent progress in captive breeding). One-third of the surviving 35, 000 Asian elephants are now in captivity, and the survival of all wild herds is endangered.

The combination of habitat loss and ivory poaching have made the African elephants endangered. Ivory has been traded for thousands of years, but this commercial activity escalated dramatically after the middle of the twentieth century. During the 1980s, about 100, 000 elephants were being slaughtered each year, their tusks ending up as billiard balls, piano keys, jewelry, and sculptures. The oldest males, bearing the biggest tusks, were killed first, but as their population diminished, younger males and females were also slaughtered, leaving young calves to grieve and usually die of starvation.

The unsustainable elephant holocaust was brought to public attention in the 1970s and bitter battles have ensued between government authorities, ivory traders, and conservationists. Not until 1989 was a ban imposed on the international trading in elephant ivory. This was enacted by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (or CITES). In the early 1990s, elephant kills in Kenya and other African countries dropped to almost zero, but by then the total surviving population of elephants had been reduced to an extremely low level. Today, elephants are worth more alive than dead in some regions, where local ivory prices have crashed from $30 a kilogram to $3, while tourists coming to see elephants and other wild-life bring hard currency to African governments, totaling more than $200 million a year.

However, the international ban on trading elephant ivory is extremely controversial, and there are strong calls to partially lift it. This is mostly coming from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other countries of southern Africa. Effective conservation efforts in that region have resulted in relatively large elephant populations in comparison with the natural areas that are available to support the herds, so that habitat damage is being caused. In fact, some of these countries engage in legal culls of some of their elephants, to ensure that the population does not exceed the carrying capacity of the available habitat. These countries also believe that they should be able to harvest their elephants at a sustainable rate, and to sell the resulting ivory in Asian markets, where the price for legal ivory is extremely high. This seems to be a sympathetic goal. In fact, CITES has decided to make limited trade exceptions; in April 1999, Zimbabwe held an auction for 20 tons of legal ivory, all of which was purchased by Japanese dealers. These relatively small, closely monitored sales of legal ivory from southern Africa will now probably occur periodically.

Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to separate legal and illegal ivory in the international marketplace, and some people feel that this partial lifting of the ban could result in greater poaching activity in countries where elephant populations remain perilously small. The real problem, of course, is that the growing human population and its many agricultural

KEY TERMS

Estrus A condition marking ovulation and sexual receptiveness in female mammals.

Musth A period of heightened sexuality and aggressiveness in mature bull elephants.

and industrial activities are not leaving enough habitat for elephants and other wild creatures, resulting in the endangerment of many species.

Resources

BOOKS

Douglas-Hamilton, Iain and Oria. Battle For the Elephant. New York: Viking Penguin, 1992.

Hayes, Gary. Mammoths, Mastodons, and Elephants Biology, Behavior and the Fossil Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Moss, Cynthia. Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years of Life in an Elephant Family. New ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Payne, Katy. Silent Thunder: The Hidden Voice of Elephants. Phoenix, AZ: Wiedenfeld and Nicholson, 1999.

Redmond, Ian. The Elephant Book. Woodstock, VT: Overlook Press, 1991.

Scullard, H.H. The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1974.

Shoshani, Jeheskel, and Pascal Tassy, eds. The Proboscidea: Evolution and Palaeoecology of Elephants and their Relatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

PERIODICALS

Cohn, Jeffrey P. Do Elephants Belong in Zoos? Bioscience 56 (September 2006): 714717.

Fleischer, Robert C., et al. Phylogeography of the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus ) Based on Mitochondrial DNA. Evolution 55 (2001): 18821892.

Grubb, Peter, et al. Living African Elephants Belong to Two Species: Loxodonta africana (Blumenbach, 1797) and Loxodonta cyclotis (Matschie, 1900). Elephant 2, no. 4 (2000): 14.

Marie L. Thompson

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Elephant

Elephant

Elephants are large, four-legged, herbivorous mammals . They have a tough, almost hairless hide, a long flexible trunk, and two ivory tusks growing from their upper jaw. Only two species of elephant exist today, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian or Indian elephant (Elephas maximus), both of which are threatened or endangered.

African elephants are the largest of all land animals, weighing up to 5 tons. There are two subspecies, the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana africana) and the African forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis). Bush elephants inhabit grassland and savanna , while forest elephants live in tropical rainforest . Asian elephants are widely domesticated, with the few surviving wild elephants living mainly in forest and woodland. Field workers have differing opinions of the life span of elephants, some estimating between 60 and 80 years while others suggesting more than 100 years.


Evolution

Elephants are placed within the suborder Elephantoidea, in the order Proboscidea. The first identifiable ancestors of today's elephants were small beasts that lived 50–70 million years ago and stood about 2 ft (0.75 m) tall. The suborder Elephantoidea originated in North Africa long before that region became extensively desertified, and from there elephants spread to every continent except Australia and Antarctica . The group once included three families, several genera, and hundreds of species. Today, however, the family Elephantidae includes only two living species: the Asian and the African elephant. Mammoths and mastodons also belonged to the suborder Elephantoidea, but these species become extinct about 10,000 years ago.

About 400,000 years ago Asian elephants inhabited a much wider range than they do today, including Africa. This species now survives only in southern Asia , from India to Sumatra and Borneo. The single species of Asian elephant has three subspecies: Elephas maximus maximus of Sri Lanka, E. m. indicus of India, Indochina, and Borneo, and E. m. sumatranus of Sumatra. African elephants only ever existed in Africa, appearing in the fossil record about four million years ago. As recently as only a hundred years ago, some 10 million African elephants inhabited that continent. By 1999, however, their numbers were reduced by overhunting to only about 300,000.


Body

Asian and African elephants can be distinguished by the shape of their backs, the Asian having a convex, gently sloping back and the African a concave or saddle-shaped one. Male elephants (or bulls) are much larger than females (cows), being 20–40% taller and up to 70% heavier. The average African adult bull weighs about 5 tons and measures about 8 ft (2.4 m) to the shoulder. The largest elephant on record was a magnificent bull, now mounted as a specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., standing a massive 13 ft 2 in (4 m) at the shoulder.

Skin texture varies from the tough, thick, wrinkled, folds on the back and forehead, to the soft, thinner, pliable skin of the breast, ears, belly, and underside of the trunk. The tough skin bears a few, scattered, bristly hairs, while the thinner skin on the trunk, chin, ear rims, eyelids, knees, wrists, and tip of the tail has somewhat thicker hair. Daily skin care includes showers, dusting with sand , and full-bodied mud-packs which are later rubbed off against a tree or boulder, removing dead skin as well. These activities help to keep the skin moist, supple, protected from the sun and insects , and also aid in keeping the animal cool.


Limbs

Supporting the elephant's massive body are four sturdy, pillar-like legs. Although the back legs are slightly longer than the front legs, the high shoulder makes the forelimbs look longer. The back legs have knees with knee-caps, while the front leg joints are more like wrists. Elephants kneel on their "wrists," stand upright on their back legs, sit on their haunches, and can be trained to balance on their front feet. The feet have thick, sponge-like pads with ridged soles which act as shock-absorbers and climbing boots, helping these sure-footed animals to ascend embankments and negotiate narrow pathways with amazing dexterity. The African species has four toenails on its round front feet, and three on its oval-shaped back feet; the Asian species has five toes on the front feet and four on the back feet. In spite of their size, elephants can move quickly, but cannot make sustained runs, as all four feet are never off the ground at one time. Elephants often doze on their feet, but sleep lying down for about one to three hours at night.


Head

Elephants have a large skull which supports the massive weight of their tusks. The size and shape of the skull helps distinguish between African and Asian elephants and between females and males. Asian elephants have a high, dome-shaped forehead while African elephants display a lower, more gently angled forehead. Heads of the males are larger in both species. Also in both species, the neck is short, making the head relatively immobile. To see behind, elephants must move their entire body; they display excited, restless behavior and turn quickly when detecting unfamiliar sounds or smells from the rear.

Mouth and trunk

Elephants have a small mouth and a large, mobile tongue which cannot extend past the short lower lip. Contributing to the elephant's unique appearance is its long, strong, flexible trunk, which is a fusion and elongation of the nose and upper lip. The trunk, with no bones and more than 100,000 muscles, is so strong and flexible it can coil like a snake around a tree and uproot it. At the end of this mighty "limb," which trails on the ground unless curled up at the end, are two nostrils and flexible finger-like projections. The tip is so sensitive and dexterous it can wipe a grain of sand from the elephant's eye and detect delicate scents blowing in the breeze. Using this remarkable appendage, an elephant can feed by plucking grass from the ground, or foliage from a tree, placing it in its mouth. Water drawn up the trunk may be squirted into the mouth for drinking, or sprayed over the body for bathing and cooling. Loud trumpeting sounds and soft, affectionate murmurs can echo through the trunk. The trunk is also used to tenderly discipline, caress, and guide young offspring, to stroke the mate, to fight off predators, and to push over trees during feeding. The trunk is clearly an essential organ . It is also sometimes the object of attack by an enemy, and damage to it causes extreme pain and can lead to death.


Teeth

The tusks of elephants begin as two front teeth which drop out after about a year. In their place grow ivory tusks which eventually protrude from beneath the upper lip. The tusks of female Asian elephants, however, remain short and are barely visible. Male African elephants grow the largest tusks, the longest recorded measuring approximately 137 in (348 cm) and weighing over 220 lb (100 kg) each. Today, however, tusks are much smaller in wild elephants because most of the older animals have been slaughtered for their ivory. Although there are variations, the long, cylindrical tusks grow in a gradual upward curve , somewhat resembling the sliver of a new moon . Elephants use their tusks as weapons in combat, and to dig up roots, strip bark off trees, lift objects, and (for females) to establish feeding dominance. Tusks continue to grow throughout an animal's life at an average of about 5 in (12.7 cm) a year; however, their length is not an accurate measure of the animals age, as the tips wear and break with daily use and during combat.

Elephants have large, grinding, molar teeth which masticate (chew and grind) their plant diet with a backward-forward jaw action. These teeth fall out when worn down, and are replaced by new, larger teeth. During its lifetime, an elephant may grow 24 of these large molar teeth, each weighing up to 9 lb (4 kg) in older animals. Only four teeth, two on each side of the jaw, are in use at any one time. As the teeth wear down, they move forward; the new teeth grow from behind and the worn teeth drop out. This pattern repeats up to six times over the elephant's lifetime, and the most common method of determining an elephant's age is by tooth and jaw examination. Once all of its teeth have fallen out, an elephant can no longer chew its food, and will soon die.


Ears

One astute elephant observer noted that "the ears of Asian elephants are shaped like India, and African elephants like Africa!" The ears of African elephants are much larger than those of Asian elephants, and the ears of the African bush elephants are larger than those of the forest elephants. African elephants cool themselves off by fanning with their ears and, conversely, in extreme cold elephants must increase their activity level to produce enough body heat to prevent their ears being frostbitten. Elephants have a keen sense of hearing , and spread their ears wide to pick up distant sounds; the spread-out ears also intimidate enemies by making the elephants appear larger.


Eyes

The eyes of elephants are about the same size as a human's. The eyes are usually dark brown, with upper and lower lids, and long eyelashes on the upper lid. With one eye on either side of their head elephants have a wide visual field, although their eyesight is relatively poor, particularly in bright sunlight.


Social behavior

Few animals other than humans have a more complex social network than elephants, which field biologists are just beginning to decipher. These outgoing, emotionally demonstrative animals rarely fight among themselves and peacefully coexist with most other animals. Elephants give and receive love, care intensely for their young, grieve deeply for their dead, get angry, show fear, and are thought to be more intelligent than any other animals except the higher primates .


Group structure

Each elephant troop has its own home range, but territorial fights are rare even though ranges often overlap. While several hundred elephants may roam a similar range, small "kin groups" form between female relatives. The leader of each group is a respected old female with years of accumulated knowledge. This matriarch is the mother and grandmother of other members but sometimes allows her sisters and their offspring to join the group. Once a male reaches maturity, he is forced to leave. The entire group looks to the matriarch for guidance, particularly in the face of danger. Her actions, based on her superior knowledge, will determine whether the group flees or stands its ground. Young members learn from their elders how to find water and food during drought , when to begin travel and where to go, and many other survival skills. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation.

Once a male elephant reaches sexual maturity at 12 years or older, the matriarch no longer tolerates him in the group. He will then live mostly alone or perhaps join a small, loosely-knit group of other males. Bull elephants seldom form long-term relationships with other males, but often one or two young males accompany an old bull, perhaps to learn from him. Bulls often spar with each other to establish a dominance hierarchy. Elephants have an excellent memory ; once a social hierarchy is established, the same two elephants not only recognize each other, even after many years, but know which one is dominant. This way, they avoid fighting again to reestablish dominance. After about 25 years of age, male elephants experience annual periods of heightened sexuality called "musth," which lasts about a week in younger animals and perhaps three or four months as they near their 50s. During this time they aggressively search out females and challenge other bulls, sometimes even causing more dominant males to back down. Different bulls come into musth at different times of the year; however, two well-matched bulls in musth may fight to the death.


Mating

Female elephants come into estrus (heat), marking ovulation and the ability to get pregnant, for only a few days each year. Because the mating season is short, mature female elephants are never far from adult males. The scent of a female elephant in estrus attracts male bulls. A receptive female will hold her head high, producing a low, rumbling invitation as she leaves her group and runs quickly across the plains chased by the bulls. It appears she actually chooses her mate, for she seldom stops for a young bull but slows down for a larger, dominant male who, once she allows him to catch her, gently rests his trunk across her back in a caress. They may mate several times, and he may stay with her until the end of her estrus, warding off other bulls and fighting if necessary. She may, however, mate with others. Because males play no part in raising the young and are not needed to protect the mother or baby, their role appears to be purely reproductive.

At the end of estrus, the cow returns to her group and the male goes off in search of another mate. The gestation period of female elephants lasts for 22 months, longer than any other animal; pregnancies are spaced from three to nine years apart. There is usually only one offspring, but twin births do occur and both calves may survive under favorable conditions. There is much excitement in the group during a birth , and another female almost always tends to the birthing mother. An adult female and her sexually immature offspring are a "family unit" within the group. However, females assist each other in raising the young, with one mother even sometimes nursing the calf of another. In general, females reach sexual maturity between the age of 12 to 15 years and, over the course of 60 years, will bear from five to 15 offspring.


Communication

Elephants teach and learn by behavioral examples and "talk" with vocalized sounds that can be described as screams, trumpets, growls, and rumbles. Originating from the throat or head, these calls can signal danger and express anger, joy, sadness and sexual invitation. An animal separated from its family will make "contact rumbles," which are low, vibrating sounds that can be heard at great distances. Once reunited, the family engages in a "greeting ceremony," reserved strictly for close relatives, in which excited rumbling, trumpeting, touching of trunks, urinating, and defecating occurs. Vocal sounds range from high-pitched squeaks to extremely powerful infrasonic sounds of a frequency much lower than can be heard by the human ear.


Death

Elephants mourn deeply for their dead and often cover them with leaves, dirt, and grass. An animal will stand over the body of a dead loved one, gently rocking back and forth as other animals caress the mourner with their trunks. One field-biologist watching such a display wrote: "This isn't just a dead elephant; it is a living elephant's dead relative or friend."

Habitat and food

Because of their high intelligence level, elephants can adapt to and modify habitat , while their wide range of food choices permits habitation of a diverse range of ecosystems, including forest, woodland, savanna, grassy plains, swampy areas, and sparsely vegetated desert . Unfortunately, because of massive poaching for ivory and the destruction of much of the elephant's natural habitat, most African elephants are now restricted to the protection of national parks. Not so long ago, however, they freely followed age-old seasonal migration routes from one habitat to another.

Elephants need massive quantities of food, perhaps 300–350 lb (136–159 kg) a day, although proportional to their body-weight elephants eat less than mice . The diet of elephants includes roots, bark, grass, leaves, berries, seedpods, and other fruits . Elephants will uproot trees to obtain tasty treats from the top, or delicately pluck a single berry from a branch. Elephants never roam far from water, and will travel great distances in search of it. They may drink up to 50 gal (189 l) of water a day, and after drinking their fill, will splash themselves with water and mud, wash their young, and sometimes just frolic, tossing and squirting water about while their young splash, play, and roll in the mud. Surprisingly, populations of these water-loving creatures may inhabit desert areas, using their tusks and trunk to dig for water under dry river beds. The knowledge of where to find water is handed down from one generation to another.


The future

Only a few surviving elephant herds remain in the wild. In Asia, elephants are venerated. However, they are also highly valued as domestic animals for work and transport and most tamed animals must be captured from the wild (although there has been recent progress in captive breeding). One-third of the surviving 35,000 Asian elephants are now in captivity, and the survival of all wild herds is threatened.

The combination of habitat loss and ivory poaching have made the African elephants endangered. Ivory has been traded for thousands of years, but this commercial activity escalated dramatically after the middle of the twentieth century. During the 1980s, about 100,000 elephants were being slaughtered each year, their tusks ending up as billiard balls, piano keys, jewelry, and sculptures. The oldest males, bearing the biggest tusks, were killed first, but as their population diminished, younger males and females were also slaughtered, leaving young calves to grieve and usually die of starvation.

The unsustainable "elephant holocaust" was brought to public attention in the 1970s and bitter battles have ensued between government authorities, ivory traders, and conservationists. Not until 1989 was a ban imposed on the international trading in elephant ivory. This was enacted by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (or CITES). In the early 1990s, elephant kills in Kenya and other African countries dropped to almost zero , but by then the total surviving population of elephants had been reduced to an extremely low level. Today, elephants are worth more alive than dead in some regions, where local ivory prices have crashed from $30 a kilogram to $3, while tourists coming to see elephants and other wildlife bring hard currency to African governments, totaling more than $200 million a year.

However, the international ban on trading elephant ivory is extremely controversial, and there are strong calls to partially lift it. This is mostly coming from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and other countries of southern Africa. Effective conservation efforts in that region have resulted in the build-up of relatively large elephant populations in comparison with the natural areas that are available to support the herds, so that habitat damage is being caused. In fact, some of these countries engage in legal culls of some of their elephants, to ensure that the population does not exceed the carrying capacity of the available habitat. These countries also believe that they should be able to harvest their elephants at a sustainable rate , and to sell the resulting ivory in Asian markets, where the price for legal ivory is extremely high. This seems to be a sympathetic goal. In fact, CITES has decided to make limited trade exceptions; in April 1999, Zimbabwe held an auction for 20 tons of legal ivory, all of which was purchased by Japanese dealers. These relatively small, closely monitored sales of legal ivory from southern Africa will now probably occur periodically.

Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to separate "legal" and "illegal" ivory in the international marketplace, and some people feel that this partial lifting of the ban could result in greater poaching activity in countries where elephant populations remain perilously small. The real problem, of course, is that the growing human population and its many agricultural and industrial activities are not leaving enough habitat for elephants and other wild creatures, resulting in the endangerment of many species.


Resources

books

Douglas-Hamilton, Iain, and Oria Douglas-Hamilton. BattleFor the Elephant. New York: Viking Penguin, 1992.

Hayes, Gary. Mammoths, Mastodons, and Elephants—Biology,Behavior and the Fossil Record. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Moss, Cynthia. Elephant Memories: Thirteen Years of Life in an Elephant Family. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1988.

Redmond, Ian. The Elephant Book. Woodstock: The Overlook Press, 1991.

Scullard, H. H. The Elephant in the Greek and Roman World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974.


Marie L. Thompson

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Estrus

—A condition marking ovulation and sexual receptiveness in female mammals.

Musth

—A period of heightened sexuality and aggressiveness in mature bull elephants.

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