It’s hard to imagine that an African elephant could ever be as small as this infant, but the proof is in the picture:
Even though this little one, which is less than three weeks old, is about as diminutive as elephants get, it’s still a baby version of the world’s largest land mammal. After a 22-month gestation African elephants give birth to a calf that weigh about 200 pounds and stands three feet tall.
By the time an elephant is full grown, however, males will stand up to 13 feet at the shoulder (see how that compares to a 6-foot man, left) and weigh as much as seven tons — that’s 14,000 pounds!
They get that big by eating a LOT. In fact, an adult elephant may eat up to 300 pounds of food — leaves, twigs and tree branches — in one day. You might suspect that they don’t sleep much, when they have to spend so many hours covering enough territory to feed themselves in such quantities. In places where African elephants abound, such as Botswana‘s Chobe National Park, Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia, and Tarangire and Ruaha national parks in Tanzania, you’ll find healthy woodlands, often dense with fast-growing mopane trees, which sustain the large herds.
To learn more about African elephants, including what the World Wildlife Fund’s Elephant Program is doing to help conserve them against habitat destruction, human conflict and ivory poaching, visit WWF’s web page. You can also send an elephant E-card and share fun facts and figures with your family and friends.
Here’s to taking care of all creatures great and small,
P.S. I was lucky enough to be on the same safari in Botswana with Clarissa King, who took the photo above. I didn’t get a shot off quickly enough, but I was delighted that Clarissa captured this precious pair that passed right alongside our Land Rover. Nothing like a contrast to reveal their true sizes, huh?