Elephants once were common throughout Africa, even in northern
Africa as late as Roman times. They have since disappeared
from that area due to overhunting and the spread of the desert.
Even though they are remarkably adaptable creatures, living in
habitats ranging from lush rain forest to semidesert, there
has been much speculation about their future. Surviving
populations are pressured by poachers who slaughter elephants
for their tusks and by rapidly increasing human settlements,
which restrict elephants' movements and reduce the size of
their habitat. Today it would be difficult for elephants to
survive for long periods of time outside protected parks and
reserves. But confining them also causes problems without
access any longer to other areas, they may harm their own
habitat by overfeeding and overuse. Sometimes they go out of
protected areas and raid nearby farms.
Wist je dat?
- The elephant is distinguished by its high level of intelligence, interesting
behavior, methods of communication and complex social structure.
- Elephants seem to be fascinated with the tusks and bones of dead elephants,
fondling and examining them. The myth that they carry them to secret "elephant
burial grounds," however, has no factual base.
- Elephants are very social, frequently touching and caressing one another and
entwining their trunks.
- Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families they take care
of weak or injured members and appear to grieve over a dead companion.