General Locations Elephants could be found in almost any region south of the Sahara as long as the land had plenty of water and trees. The numbers have drastically declined over the last two decades as the demand for ivory increased. In 1981, it is believed that there were 1.3 million elephants living in Africa, but in 1986 only 750,000 remained. In Eastern Africa, up to 80% of the elephant population had been lost.
Elephants can be seen in the following National Parks and Reserves: Amboseli NP, Masai Mara GR, Kenya; Tarangire and Ruaha NP, Tanzania; Zambia; Mana Pools and Hwange NP, Zimbabwe; Chobe NP, Moremi GR, Botswana; Kruger NP, South Africa; Etosha NP, Namibia.
Habitat The elephant is considered the most versatile herbivore. Large elephants can feed from the ground up to 20 feet which means that elephants can take advantage of numerous food resources.
Elephants are unique because they must eat around 330 lb of food each day (150 kg/day) to compensate for the fact that they have a very small amount of storage space for nutrients. During the rainy season, elephants feed on grasses and herbs, however during the dry season, more time is spent browsing the foliage.
Activity Elephants are considered both diurnal and nocturnal animals. Elephants generally spend 16 hours each day feeding and only 4 or 5 sleeping. On average, an elephant will travel up to 50 mi (80 km) in several days while in search of water. Bulls will drink up to 60 gal (227 l) of water a day when it is available. When water is not available, elephants will flap their ears in order to cool down the blood flowing throughout the body.
Social Systems Elephant society is made up of matriarchal clans which consist of a mother and her offspring, and daughters with her offspring. Males live alone or in bachelor herds. Elephants are nonterritorial so mating depends on size.
- Cow Herds: There are typically 9 to 11 elephants in a herd. Larger herds will generally split in two, but will stay within the same home range. These larger groups are made up of 2 or 3 family units and will have as many as 28 related elephants. Home ranges have been as small as 5.4 sq. mi (14 sq. km) and as large as 1350 sq. mi (3500 sq. km).
In normal circumstances, when a matriarch becomes to old to continue leading the herd, generally 50 to 60 years old, the cow is abandoned by the rest of the herd and a new matriarch is selected.
Bull Elephants: Males typically herd in groups of 2 to 15, and occasionally more than 35. A male will leave his cow herd by the age of 12 to join a bachelor herd.