Asian elephants are the continent's largest terrestrial mammals. They can reach 21ft (6.4m) in length and 10ft (3m) at the shoulder, and weigh as much as five tonnes. They are smaller than African elephants and have proportionally smaller ears, which they keep in constant motion in order to cool themselves. They also have a single'finger' on the upper lip of their trunks as opposed to African elephants, which have a second one on the lower tip. A significant number of male Asian elephants are tuskless.
If you've ever wanted to say "hello" like an elephant, now you can. For the first time, human words and emotions are being translated into elephant calls that signal similar emotions or intentions, also dubbed "elephant language," thanks to a new website translator. Developed by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and ElephantVoices, the Hello in Elephant website allows people to send messages to friends, translating human phrases into elephant calls. By inputting a phrase by voice, text, or emoji, users can see a video of an elephant communicating the same greeting or emotion back to them, which can then be shared with others. By typing "hello," for example, the translation includes an elephant call used to greet one another.
Old male elephants that are targeted for their ivory by hunters actually play a crucial role within the herd role by leading young male groups to food and water. UK researchers rubbished claims by trophy hunters and ivory dealers that old males are worth killing for their precious tusks on the grounds they are'redundant' in terms of breeding and species survival. Scientists set up cameras to track African savannah elephants in Botswana in central Africa, where populations are decreasing due to poaching and conflict with humans. The experts say the oldest males in all-male groups are most likely to hold'leading positions' when they travel, potentially helping younger, less experienced followers. The species (Loxodonta africana) is being driven to near extinction due to hunting and is currently listed as'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List.
An elephant known in her Miami zoo as one of the "Golden Girls" died after fighting with another elderly elephant. Cita, a 50-year-old African elephant, "was knocked down and unable to recover" after an encounter with another African elephant named Peggy, Zoo Miami said in an online statement. "This is a very difficult time for the Zoo Miami family, as well as the staff and volunteers at the Virginia Zoo where Cita had lived for decades," the zoo said. "This is especially difficult for the elephant keepers who have a very special bond with these magnificent and charismatic animals that they so passionately dedicate themselves to caring for." According to zoo officials, Cita suffered from several age-related issues including muscle wasting, advanced arthritis and general loss of body condition.
Every year, poachers, driven by lucrative trade in illegal ivory, kill an estimated 20,000 African elephants. As a result, over the past decade, the population of African elephants has plummeted by over 20 percent. The latest status report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which estimates that the continent now has just 415,000 elephants, highlights the strong moral and ethical arguments for protecting the species from poachers. Now, a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications provides an equally strong economic incentive to do so. According to the study -- co-authored by scientists from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the University of Vermont and the University of Cambridge -- African countries lose roughly $25 million annually in tourism revenue as a direct result of the current poaching crisis.