Size, mass and even colour (due to soil colour) differ greatly with distribution. A highly intelligent animal that can subsist in virtually any habitat, but it is now being restricted by human exploitation, encroachment of nomadic routes and waterholes. Elephants are highly sociable and have similar life cycles to humans. The maternity herd is very protective of young, but males are ‘ejected at 12-15 years old, after which they become nomadic males, often associating with other males. Males tend to have thicker tusks and more rounded foreheads than the females who have thinner tusks and more square shaped foreheads.

Elephants have to eat 5% of their body weight every day and so sleep for only 4-5 hours a day and in very short bursts (often whilst standing!). They communicate through subsonic calls that humans are unable to detect and Elephants may detect these even kms away, feeling vibrations in their feet also. Deceptively quick, able to reach 30kms/h they are often seen hustling to waterholes that sate their thirst (can drink up to 200 litres in one drinking session!).

Estrus lasts 2-6 days and females typically first mate between 8-20 years old. After a gestation period of about 22-24 months, one calf is born under great excitement within the herd; Elephants have strong bonds and even at 9yrs old a calf may spend over half of the time less than 5metres away from it mother. The story of Elephant graveyards is a myth and old elephants tend to congregate where plants are soft and moist, because their last molars (Elephants have 6 molar sets in their lifetime) have worn down and they start to lose condition in their sixties.

Calves are nursed for 1-2 year, up to 4 but they take at least a few weeks to learn how to use their trunks.

Elephants can be seen throughout the Maasai Mara, but when the large numbers of wildebeest take over the savannah, the elephants are pushed into the Crotons and woodlands where they cause a lot of damage.

Longevity about 60years.

http://www.maasaimara.com

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