The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

African Elephant

Afrikaans name: Olifant

African Elephant

African Elephant

Photo © Steven Herbert

Loxodonta africana

Interesting facts about Elephants

The African Elephant is the largest land mammal in the world. Males measure up to 4 metres at the shoulder and may weigh up to 6,000 kg.

An elephant may live up to 60 years and is likely to die from starvation. Elephants replace their molars 6 times and after the last set of teeth has worn down their starvation is likely to set in.

An elephants tusks are formed from their incisors. Elephants use their tusks for various things including fighting, digging for roots, stripping bark off trees and for defence from predators. Tusks continue to grow throughout their life span but are also worn down.

Both male and female elephants have tusks.

Elephants are included in the Big 5 which also includes Leopard, Lion, Cape Buffalo and Rhino.

Next time you are in Kruger National Park be sure to visit the elephant museum at Letaba camp. It has an amazing collection elephant related exhibits.

Elephant herds are led by a female who is referred to as the matriarch (by humans not by other elephants). There are likely to be a number of other females and their calves in the herd. Male calves will leave the herd around puberty and will form loose herds with other males. Older males are often seen by themselves.

An elephants brain can weigh 5kg.

African Elephant

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - Imagine having to eat over 200 kg of plants and drink around 200 litres of water each day? That is what an African Elephant has to do to keep going.

African Elephants drink at Renosterpan in Kruger National Park

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - A herd of elephants drink at Renosterpan in Kruger National Park.

References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa including Madagascar - Author: Theodor Haltenorth and Helmut Diller - Published: 1980 - Page: 124

A Field Guide to the Tracks & Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife - 3rd - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2000 - Page: 106

Africa Geographic Vol 19 No 3 - Author: - Published: 2011 - Page: 24

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Published: 1999 - Page: 8

African Wildlife - Vol 36 No 2 - Author: - Published: 1982 - Page: 69

African Wildlife - Vol 36 No 4/5 - Author: - Published: 1982 - Page: 168

African Wildlife - Vol 37 No 6 - Author: - Published: 1983 - Page: 224

African Wildlife - Vol 44 No 4 - Author: - Published: 1990 - Page: 205

An Introduction to the Larger Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Joanna Dalton - Published: 1987 - Page: 149

Animals of the Kruger National Park - Author: G. de Graaff - Published: 1987 - Page: 8

Caravan & Outdoor Life - Issue 692 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 58

Chris and Tilde Stuarts Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 1st Edit - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1988 - Page: 164

Country Life - Issue 224 - Author: - Published: 2015 - Page: 58

Country Life - Issue 276 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 32

Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind - Author: B. Hilton-Barber & Prof. L. R. Berger - Published: 2004 - Page: 155

Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 1997 - Page: 220

Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: Chris and Tilde Stuart - Published: 2001 - Page: 164

Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park - Author: U. de V. Pienaar et al. - Published: 1987 - Page: 97

First Field Guide to Animal Tracks of Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2003 - Page: 45

Game Ranger in your Backpack - Author: Megan Emmett and Sean Pattrick - Published: 2013 - Page: 22

Getaway - Vol 35 No 02 - Author: - Published: 2023 - Page: 72

go! - Issue 153 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 28

go! - Issue 156 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 72

Hit the Road - 2nd Edition - Author: MapStudio - Published: 2018 - Page: 146

Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of SA - 2nd edn - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1991 - Page: 414

Kruger National Park Questions and Answers - Author: P.F. Fourie - Published: 1987 - Page: 204

Kruger National Park, Visitors Map 1996 - Author: - Published: 1996 - Page: 4

Land Mammals of Southern Africa - A field guide - Author: Reay HN Smithers - Published: 1986 - Page: 132

Maberlys Mammals of Southern Africa - Revised edition - Author: Richard Goss - Published: 1986 - Page: 180

Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 1987 - Page: 61

Mammals of the Kruger and other National Parks - Author: The National Parks Board - Published: 1980 - Page: 68

Pilanesberg Nature Reserve - Map and Guide Book - Author: North West Parks Board - Published: 0 - Page: 2

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 13

Questions and Answers - Mammals of Southern Africa - Author: Deirdre Richards - Published: 1990 - Page: 25

Signs of the Wild - 3rd Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Published: 1986 - Page: 117

Signs of the Wild - 5th Edition - Author: Clive Walker - Published: 1996 - Page: 114

South African Animals in the Wild - Author: Anthony Bannister - Published: 1985 - Page: 43

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Published: 1991 - Page: 66

Southern African Wildlife - Author: Readers Digest - Published: 1989 - Page: 46

The Living Deserts of Southern Africa - 2nd edition - Author: Darry Lovegrove - Published: 2021 - Page: 113

The Mammal Guide of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Burger Cillie - Published: 2011 - Page: 100

The Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa - Author: P. Briggs - Published: 2020 - Page: 338

Tracks and Tracking in Southern Africa - Author: Louis Liebenberg - Published: 2000 - Page: 88

Wild Issue 3 - Author: - Published: 2008 - Page: 12

Wild Issue 27 - Author: - Published: 2014 - Page: 62

Wild Issue 35 - Author: - Published: 2016 - Page: 64

Wild Issue 42 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 74

Wild Issue 45 - Author: - Published: 2018 - Page: 26

Wild Issue 46 - Author: - Published: 2019 - Page: 90

Wild Ways - 2nd Edition - Author: Peter Apps - Published: 2000 - Page: 117

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 214


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List of South African Mammals

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