African Elephants Comprehension

Africa is almost twice the size of the United States. It has deserts, grasslands, and rainforests. Africa also has cities and towns much like those here. And Africa is home to the largest land mammal in the world-the elephant.

Most African elephants live in the grasslands, where there is enough rain and plenty of space for these enormous creatures to move around. An adult male elephant can grow to be more than 10 feet tall and weigh almost 12,000 pounds. They never stop growing! The oldest elephant in a herd will be the biggest one, too.

Another way to determine an elephant's age is by its tusks. The longer the tusks, the older the elephant. Elephants use their tusks to knock down trees. Sometimes you will see an elephant with one very long tusk and one very short tusk. The short one has been worn down or broken during the elephant's many years of tree toppling. Elephants eat the trunks of trees, as well as the trees' leaves, branches, and bark.

Elephants have another tool to topple trees, too. Their trunks! Elephants are known for their very long noses. An adult elephant can use its trunk to snap a foot-thick tree trunk or to pick up something as small as a peanut. And when it has not rained in a long time, elephants use their trunks to dig deep holes in the ground in search of water.

How else do elephants find water when it has not rained? They live in family groups, called herds. The oldest female elephant in the group leads the herd. She is called the matriarch. She can remember where all of the watering holes are for miles around! Some elephants have found watering holes they have not visited in 20 years.

The matriarch has another important job. She helps to raise all of the baby elephants in her herd. Baby elephants are called calves. A newborn calf weighs almost 250 pounds! While the matriarch is not the mother to each calf, it is her job to keep each one safe. She also teaches the younger female elephants how to care for the calves.

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Jane Addams High School

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