Elephants are intelligent, complex and beautiful with multifaceted and awe-inspiring behaviours and communication methods. Seeing these gentle giants in their natural habitat is a wonder to behold and something we believe everyone should have the opportunity to do.
Elephants are the biggest and heaviest land-dwelling animal, with the second-largest teeth in the world. Their trunks house fifty thousand muscles (more than we as humans have in our whole bodies) and subsequently, they grow up to be either ‘left or right-trunked’ in the same way that we are either left or right-handed. Elephant tusks are used as weapons to ward off predators and surprisingly, to remove soil from the vegetation that they eat.
Talking the Talk
Elephants are incredibly vocal creatures, able to make a variety of sounds. They produce different snorts, squeals, screams, groans and trumpets – all to communicate different messages within their herds. Low rumbles are a form of infrasonic noise which can travel distances up to 9.6 kilometres to convey messages to other elephants. Most of these rumbles are of such low frequency that they cannot be heard by humans.
Walking the Walk
The way that elephants receive this rumbling communication is…well, a little odd. Their feet actually pick up on the vibrations caused by the low frequency rumbling. In a way, they have the ability to ‘hear’ through their feet. Another extraordinary thing about these beautiful beasts is that they are incapable of running – they are only able to ‘walk faster’, reaching speeds of up to 24km/h.
Elephants are incredibly family orientated and sentimental. They have been known to return to sites where family members have passed away, gently caressing and cradling the bones before covering them with leaves and other natural debris. They protect their young fiercely and follow a specific family hierarchy.
A Species in Crisis
Poaching due to the ivory trade, habitat loss and conflict with humans has seen a steady decline in the African elephant population. Southern Africa has been a bastion for approximately 293 000 or 70% of the estimated remaining African elephants. For a chance to see these magnificent creatures in the protection of The Kruger Park, contact Timbavati Safari Lodge or visit their website.