Elephants are mammals and the largest existing land animals. All elephants have big bodies and swinging trunks. There are two different kinds of elephants.
The Asian elephant is smaller than the African elephant. An Asian elephant has small ears compared to an African elephant and only males have tusks. However, many male Asian elephants are tuskless. Asian elephants live in forested regions of India and throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. About a third of Asian elephants live in captivity. The population of the Asian elephant has declined by an estimated 50 percent over the past 75 years.
The African elephant is the largest land animal in the world. Scientists measured one elephant that weighed more than a school bus full of children! It lives on the grassy plains and woodlands of Africa. African elephants have really big, fan-shaped ears. Both males and females have tusks.
Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit and bark in large quantities. Cultivated crops such as bananas, rice and sugarcane are among their favourite foods. This brings them into conflict with humans. They need to drink at least once a day so they are always close to a source of fresh water. Elephants are crepuscular- they typically sleep during the day and are most active at dawn and dusk.
Elephants are widely viewed as one of Earth’s most intelligent animals.
In the wild, female elephants, called cows, live in close-knit family herds with their young, but adult males, known as bulls, tend to roam on their own. Cows give birth to one calf every two to four years. Each calf weighs between 50-150 kg. At birth, baby elephants stand about 3 feet tall.
A) Please look up facts about elephants on the Internet. Use this information and the information contained in the text above to answer the following questions:
- What do you think an elephant uses its tail for?
- Describe the ears of an elephant.
- What are tusks and what is their function?
- What is the trunk and what is it used for?
- Elephants have wide, padded feet. Do you think they walk noisily or quietly?
- There are 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. Approximately how many elephants were there in the wild 75 years ago?
- Can you name some large animals that are smaller than an elephant?
- Describe the skin of an elephant?
- Find 5 facts about elephants that are not in the text. Write them down and discuss.
B) Fill in the blanks with parts of an elephant. Some words may be repeated:
- The elephant uses its long __ to swat at flies.
- The __ of an African elephant are as big as blankets.
- Elephants can spread their __ to look even bigger to scare other animals away.
- __ are large pointed teeth.
- A __ is a very long nose for breathing and smelling and for carrying food and water to the elephant’s mouth.
- An elephant’s grey __ is thick and wrinkled.
- African elephant have four nails on their front __ and three nails on their back __.
Audio courtesy Tara Kriplani: