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Elephant Gifts

Elephants are large land mammals in two genera of the family Elephantidae: Elephas and Loxodonta. Three species of elephant are living today: the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant and the Asian Elephant (also known as the Indian Elephant). The elephant has appeared in cultures across the world. They are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence.

African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their much larger ears. In addition, the African elephant is typically larger than the Asian elephant and has a concave back. In Asian elephants only males have tusks, but both males and females of African elephants have tusks and are usually less hairy than their Asian cousins.

Trunk of an Elephant

The elephant is the largest land animal and has no natural enemies.They live in family herds comprising of up to twenty adult females and their young, under the leadership of the oldest elephant , the matriarch. The exception to this is the adult males who are solitary nomads attracted to a family group only when one of its mature adults or "cows" is ready to mate. They are found in Africa and Asia.

In this article I will restrict myself to the trunk because of its importance to the elephant.

An elephant can use its trunk to carry a tree, pick up a peanut, have a drink or take a shower.The Elephant trunk is the modified nose and upper lip lined with as many as forty plus individual muscles that allow it to bend and hold like an arm or hand. It is also so sensitive that it can pick up a single blade of grass. The trunk of an African Elephant has two lips at the end while that of the Asian Elephant has only an upper one. The six main functions of the elephant trunk include:

Sucking: The Elephant trunk sucks up to fourteen litres of water then blows it into its mouth or sprays its body to keep cool. It can also suck in dust and spray its body to reduce the parasite load.

Feeding: The trunk is used to break off tree branches, pick off leaves and grass and even pluck fruits and put them into its mouth. For the elephant to feed, the trunk is indispensable.

As a sense organ, the elephant trunk is its "fingure" as well as its nose. The elephant has a strong sense of smell. Raising the trunk up and swaying it from side to side, it can determine the location of friends, enemies, and food sources, much like a periscope. To follow a track, an elephant sweeps its trunk over the ground like a metal detector. It also uses the tip of its trunk to investigate another's genitalia or mouth for clues about its identity, sex, age, and reproductive status.

Defence: The elephant defends itself by grasping and flinging the enemy using its trunk.

The trunk also plays a major role in social interactions such as play wrestling,caressing, during courtship and even in the mother baby relationship.

Communication: One of the many ways of communication in the rich elephant language is rumbles and trumpets.The former is low frequency infrasound while the later is audible to humans.It is the trunk that produces these sounds, much like a wind instrument:

The elephant trunk is the most important and versatile appendage.With it ,the elephant can carry a tree,pick up a peanut, have a drink or take a shower. It serves the elephant in at least six critical functions: drinking and feeding, defence, social interactions, communication, smell and touch, body cleansing and temperature control.

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