African Elephants

 

I am Earth's Largest Land Mammal...

I can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. I don't sleep much because I spend most of my life roaming over great distances in order to find the large quantities of food it takes to sustain my body. I live in the African Sahara with my herd. Although we are massive, we don't have any enemies. The species that we fear most are humans. I am the African Elephant. 

Our herd always travels together to protect our calves and elder elephants. Lions and packs of hyenas linger, waiting for the perfect moment that one of us strays away just enough to attack.

As we search for food, the sun is blazing. Our skin is very sensitive  and the sun can give us severe sunburn. I know we aren't the most attractive species on the planet, but hey the wrinkles in our skin control our body systems and keeps us cool! They also increase the surface area of our skin, which is extremely important

when we bathe. Well our version of bathing at least - wallowing in mud, lakes, and rivers. Ahhh that feels good! The cracks in our skin trap water, lenghtening the time it takes for the water to evaporate. This leaves our skin moist thoughout the day. I feel a fly walking on my back - annoying little pests!

As it walks up my back closer to my head, I swat at it wth my trunk. Our trunks are extremely flexible and can store up to 4 liters of water. I search for my calf and find her a few feet behind me. I use my trunk to squirt water on her body, especially the regions that have been exposed to sunlight. 

I remove twigs and logs as we continue to walk. Our trunks have over 40,000 muscles in it, which is more than those pesky humans have in their entire body! We can make our trunks do almost anything, but we are careful with them because they are essential for our

survival.

The day goes by with no luck finding food. I do however, find a good set of sticks that are great for scratching those hard to reach areas on my body with my trunk. Yes, I know, that's all very exciting!

As the sun sets, we are ready to stop for the night and guard our herd from the animals that come out at night. Our ears are most important at night. Using a function called infrasound capabilities, we can hear noises up to 14km away which warns us of danger. A ripple in the air alerts us.

We begin to walk quickly away from the noise. The sole of our feet is made up of a tough, fatty consecutive tissue which acts like a shock absorber and allows us to move silently. Even if we step on twigs and sticks, it can't be heard. Sadly, we can't run or gallop so the pack of hyenas catches up quickly.

We use our trunks as a trumpet and warn others of the danger. Our first set of defense is to bunch together, flap our ears and stomp our feet. Some of our calves run away in fear. Tired from the sun and hungry, it doesn't take much for the hyenes to catch up to them and take them down.

We catch up and use our tusks to wound the hyenas. Our tusks are solid - they are 20cm thick and weigh up to 200 pounds. As a group, we are able to ward them off.

Some of them are limping and bleeding profusely. Our tusks and trunks are dripping with blood. This fight has taken a toll on our tired and aching bodies.

There have been some casualites. As we look down at the bodies, I look around for my calf. Oh no. I get closer to the bodies and examine their skin, exposed bone and trunks. I find my calf.

Elephants have the biggest brains of mammals. We are one of the only species aside from humans that experiance emotions. Mothers form powerful bonds with their calves. We feel loss when our own die. I spend the night by her side, as do the other mothers with their calves. 

In the morning we bury them by covering them with leaves, dirt and tree branches. We mourn them a little while longer and then continue our journey through the desert. As we move along, we find bones of other elephants and pay our respects. These elephants died of starvation because no one was left to bury them.

We are now an endagered species. This journey isn't an easy one, but we stand together and push through.

 

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