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The Big Five Series – The Elephant

The Jumbo by Mwaniki Mutugi

elephants File photo: An Elephant' family

Swahili Name: Ndovu or Tembo
Maasai Name: Oltome
Scientific Name: Loxodonta Africana
Height: 2.5m to 4m
Weight: Male – 5 to 6 Tonnes, Female – 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes
Lifespan: 60 years
Gestation Period: 22 months; have one young
Length of Tusks: 3.5m
Food: Herbivore; eats 200kg a day; drinks up to 300 liters of water.

It is a huge mammal characterized by a long muscular snout and two long, curved tusks. The elephant is highly intelligent and strong. It is the largest land animal and among the longest lived, with life spans of 60 years or more. A healthy, full-grown elephant have no natural enemies other than humans.

In Thailand, India and other Southeast Asian countries, elephants are highly revered and honored therefore beautifully decorated and very important in traditional religious ceremonies. According to the National Geographic, over the past 40 million years, more than 600 species of elephants have roamed the earth. Today only three species remain—the savanna elephant and the forest elephant of Africa, and the Asian elephant.

The elephant remains endangered with highly decreasing numbers from 5 million to 10 million at the turn of 20th century to 400,000 to 500,000 at the end of the same century. The decline is attributed to widespread hunting-cum-poaching and destruction of their habitat.

An Elephant at Mwaluganje  Elephant Sanctuary

An Elephant at Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary

In Kenya alone, efforts to conserve this mammal started in 1972 when Cynthia Moss founded the African Wildlife Foundation’s Amboseli Elephant Research Project. Since then, Moss has documented the complex social interactions of more than 1,600 elephants, greatly broadening the scientific understanding of these magnificent creatures. She has published her research in a number of books that highlight the plight of endangered elephants and the need for extensive conservation efforts if these animals are to survive.

Best Places to Spot Elephants in Kenya

The most premium location to spot elephants in Kenya is Amboseli National Park, actually, it is the best place in Africa to get up close to free-ranging elephants. Since 1972, great research work by Cynthia Moss and her team has made The Amboseli Elephant family become the most celebrated elephants in the world with the Amboseli Elephant Research Project remaining the world’s longest study of elephants. Other places include; Mt.Kenya National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, The Aberdares National Park, Tsavo East and West National Park, Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, The David Sheldrick elephant orphange Nairobi, Meru National Park, Marsabit National Park, Samburu, Shaba, Buffalo Springs National Reserves, Mt. Elgon National Park (world-renown for its cave-elephants)

Sources: National Geographic || AWF || Mwaluganje ElephantSanctuary || Elephant Voices
About Mwaniki Mutugi (367 Articles)
Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at Kiboko Kenya Safaris (kibokokenyasafaris.com).