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Eversdal

Report Grade 6

THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT

Looks
The African elephant is the largest land mammal. It has a heavy, grey body with four legs and a short tail that ends in a bunch of hair. The rest of the body is hairless. The head is large with two huge ears, two small eyes, a trunk and two teeth called tusks. (Lizanne & Desiree)

The African elephant's eyesight is not very good. It uses its big ears for ventilation and communication. These huge animals can weigh up to 5.4 ton. The trunk has two lobes and is the most sensitive part of the elephant's body. (Anina & Wilmien)

The trunk is used for breathing, smelling, drinking water, picking food, breaking branches and fighting. (Carla-Marié & Sophie-Marie)

There are  4 to 5 toes on the front feet and only 3 toes on the back feet. Elephants have only 4 grinding teeth. When worn by the rough vegetation that they eat, these are replaced by the larger teeth at the back of the jaw. (Jo-Anni & Janine)

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The tusks can break when they dig up bulbs.

Habitat
The African elephant lives in Africa, south of the Sahara desert in tropical forests, savannah areas, deserts and river valleys. (Coralee, Heidi & Janine)

Eating habits
Elephants drink water by sucking it up with their trunks and spraying it into their mouths. They pick up food with their trunks, put it into their mouths, chew it and then swallow it. (Stephen & Kenneth)

Elephants eat mainly leaves and grass and they drink a lot of water (190 litres per day). They eat in the morning, in the evening and during the rest of the day. (Megan & Annique)
Up to 200 kg of food is needed daily.

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African elephants at a drinking hole

Male and female differences
Males travel alone and the females travel in groups with the younger elephants.
The bull are  bigger than the cows:   
Bull - 3.4 m (length) and 5.4 metric tonne (weight)
Cow - 2.8 m (length) and 3.6 metric tonne(weight). (Stephanie & Rouxlé)

Reproduction
Elephants are ready to mate at the age of 15 to 16, usually with a bull that is able to fight with other bulls in the herd. The mating pair will often separate from the herd for a few weeks. After 21 to 22 months one calf is born. It can follow the herd after just a few days. Cows can have 5 to 6 calves in a lifetime. (Rohann, Hanno & Johann)

Interesting habits
African elephants like to cool off by playing in the water and mud. The mud will then dry on their skins and this protects them from the sun. They regularly flap their ears for better blood circulation and to keep them cool. Elephants sometimes take a nap during the hottest part of the day. They can do this while standing or by laying down.
(Carla-Marié & Sophie-Marie)

Are they endangered?
The African elephant is endangered because poachers kill them for their ivory tusks.
(Ruan, Etienne & Charl)
The reduction of their habitat is also a reason why they are dying. (Carla, Liesl & Suzaan)

What can we do?

Pictures and Information
Encarta 97 - Microsoft
The World Book Encyclopaedia vol. 6
Die Natuur in die weegskaal - Rob Marsh
Die Kinderensiklopedie Deel VII
Veldgids tot die Soogdiere van Suid-Afrika - Chris en Tilde Stuart  

Other sites:
Three elephant friends in Knysna
Elephant Puzzle
Elephants in the Addo National Park