RESEARCH: Older male elephants keep younger males calm

Older male elephants keep younger males calm and help prevent conflict with humans, says a new study reported in Science News in December 2021.

Researchers at the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour at the University of Exeter in England conducted research with a British-based charity organization called Elephants for Africa that is also a registered non-government organization (NGO) in Botswana, Africa.

The researchers studied 281 male elephants in an all-male area in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana for three years. They divided the elephants into four groups, by age: two groups of adolescents and two groups of adults. In one group of adolescents, the elephants were 10-15 years old, and in the other group of adolescents, the elephants were 16-20 years old. In one group of adults, the elephants were 21-25 years old, and in the other group of adults, the elephants were older than 26 years of age.

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RESEARCH: Elephant trunks use extreme suction to suck up water quickly: faster than a human sneeze

Extreme suction helps elephants suck up water quickly, and to hold water and food in their trunks. Extreme suction enables elephants to inhale water at speeds nearly 30 times faster than humans exhale air during a sneeze.

New Scientist magazine, on 2 June 2021, announced recent research results on the effectiveness of elephants using extreme suction. Elephants use their trunks, which weigh more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds), in a variety of ways: to forage through vegetation for food, to drink, and even as a snorkel when wading through deep water.

To better understand the trunk in action, scientist Andrew Schulz at the Georgia Institute of Technology in America, and his colleagues, filmed a 34-year-old female African Savannah Elephant (Loxodonta africana) while she completed a series of tests at a zoo in Atlanta.

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Elephant census taken from space

In South Africa, an elephant census – counting the number of elephants – is being conducted by satellite imaging. 

This innovative, cutting-edge technology means that scientists can use the satellite images to count African elephants from space. 

The images are from an Earth-Observation satellite orbiting the planet 600 kilometres (372 miles) above the ground. This could enable scientists to survey up to 5,000 square kilometres of elephant habitat each day – on days without cloud cover.

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African Elephant and Asian Elephant: what’s the difference?

What is the difference between an African Elephant and an Asian Elephant?

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) are both land mammals.

The African Elephant has larger ears than the Asian Elephant.

The African Elephant has ears shaped like the continent of Africa; the Asian Elephant has ears shaped like the country of India.

The African Elephant has no frontal hump on its head; the Asian Elephant has a frontal hump on its head.

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Asian Elephant

The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) is a large land mammal.

The Asian Elephant has grey, almost hairless, wrinkled skin over its body. Its nose is a long trunk, its ears are fan-like flaps, and its tail is short. It has small dark eyes, a small mouth, and large forward and upturned ivory tusks. Females usually do not have tusks, but might have barely visible tushes (seen only when the mouth is open).

Its legs are thick with large pads for feet. Its front feet have a round sole, and the hind (back) feet have an oval-shaped sole. Its feet have distinct nail-like structures on each foot.

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African Elephant

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest land mammal on Earth.

The African Elephant has grey, almost hairless, wrinkled skin over its massive body. Its nose is a long trunk, its ears are large fan-like flaps, and its tail is short with a tuft of dark hair at the end. It has small dark eyes, a small mouth, and large forward and upturned ivory tusks. Both males and females have tusks, but female tusks are smaller.

Its legs are thick with large pads for feet. Its front feet have a round sole, and the hind (back) feet have an oval-shaped sole.

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