Elephants of Kruger National Park

African Elephants are the bulkiest and heaviest of all land mammals and are much larger than their Asian counterparts.  A fully grown male African Elephant can weigh

IMG_0739 six and one-half tons.  The habitat that the elephants inhabit does influence their behavorial patterns and even their appearance. That is why in Kruger at the present time the majority of the elephants sporting large trunks are in the north where the Mopani trees grow that affects their size.

The majority of elephants inhabit bush veld and woodland areas where they are very destructive in their feeding habits and will push an entire tree down simply to pluck a few green leaves from the canopy of the tree.  This is very evident when you enter Kruger through the Crocodile Gate Bridge  where the area up and along s25 show evidence of this destructive behavior.  They are strictly vegetarian and consume large amounts of tree bark, roots, leaves, branches, grass and fruit.  They are particularly fond of macula fruit, baobab fruit as well as acacia pods. They consume over 150kg of food a day mainly due to their inefficient digestive system.

Elephants are generally placid, but can be extremely dangerous if threatened or when they are in season or a Bull elephant is in Musth.  Upset elephants will make a mock charge or trumpet loudly to show its dominance usually with its ears flapping and its trunk up.  They are family orientated usually in breeding herds of 20 or more.

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They are social animals ruled by the matriarch.  The senior cow in the family takes care of the needs of the herd.  Bulls rarely fight over cows and will mate with several in the herd. Both males and females grow tusks although the females are generally smaller. The tusks of an old bull can weigh as much as 50 kg each but generally not more than 90kg, the heaviest were a pair weighing just short of 200kg from a bull elephant in central Africa.

 

Elephants live about 65 years, their age is determined by their dentation.  They have six pairs of molars, with two in use  at any one time.  As one pair is used they move forward along the jaw and are worn away or splintered away by constantly chewing and the roots are finally absorbed.  That pair is replaced by the next which are longer and wider.  Finally, when all six sets of molars have been worn away, the elephant has attained old age and is unable to chew food and slowly dies from lack of nutrition.

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Due to their large size their only predator is man who kill the elephants for their tusks or sometimes for invading farm land where they can be very destructive to fruit trees etc
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