The lion and Elephants
The lion is considered the king of beasts, but the title should rightly belong to the biggest and also one of the most intelligent of all land animals – the elephant.
The life-span of an elephant is similar to that of man, sometimes reaching seventy years. Like man, elephants can live almost anywhere, from dry Savannah to dark impenetrable rain forests.
Elephants, like man, can also change their environment by tearing down trees and turning wooded areas into open plains.
Elephants are believed to have descended from a pig-sized creature that evolved near the Nile some forty million years ago. They migrated to every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Today, however, only the Indian and the mighty African elephant have survived.
Elephants have several unique features. Their outsized ears that are always moving spread about half a square metre each. They not only amplify sounds heard by the elephant, but also act as fans and keep away flies. The extra surface is also helpful as it helps the elephant lose body heat.
The most remarkable features of the elephant are its tusks and trunk. The tusks can grow up to three metres in length and weigh up to 100 kilograms. The tusks are used as picks for digging, swords for dueling and racks for carrying. Elephants can carry on quite comfortably after breaking a tusk but their trunk is essential. It is very flexible as it has no bones or joints. The trunk is powerful enough to uproot whole trees yet it can also delicately pick up a twig or a flower. Elephants use their trunks to smell, to tear tufts of grass to eat, and to squirt their backs with squishy mud to cool off.
Elephants possess a mysterious form of speech. They have various calls ranging from loud trumpetings when playing or greeting a friend to highpitched cries from claves in trouble. Their infrasonic calls which are inaudible to the human ear can travel up to three kilometers.
Elephants are also similar to humans in their display of compassion. Mother elephants treat their young with love and care. Elephants greet long-lost friends and relatives affectionately by rumbling and intertwining trunks. Sick elephants are brought food and water by the others of the herd.
It is a tragedy that such gentle creatures are not safe and in parks as poachers hunt them with sophisticated weapons. The reasons is ivory or ‘white gold’. As a result, the elephant population is falling at an alarming rate. Although environmentalists are calling for a halt to this unlawful trade, this slaughter will only stop when people become aware of the terrible consequences of buying ivory.