– a family that unites the largest and strongest living land mammals. These are tall, thick-skinned animals in the tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Elephants are divided into two genus – Indian elephants and African elephants.
Elephants have massive heads and trunk, a long trunk, large fan-shaped ears and tusks. Deprived of bones, the muscular trunk of elephants is a fused and strongly elongated upper lip and nose. It is considered to be an intelligent beast, although his brain, even if large in absolute size, is disproportionately small in comparison with the enormous mass of the body.
These animals eat young shoots of shrubs and trees, as well as tubers and even bark of trees. To maintain a normal weight and strength, the animal needs to receive about 250 kg of feed per day and 190 liters of water per day.
Elephants live in packs that consist of one to four families and unite under the direction of one of the females 30-50 individuals, including a lot of elephants. The lifespan of elephants under favorable conditions can reach 60 years.
Watching these big animals, you feel to them an involuntary respect and admiration. It seems that these are very calm, intelligent and ancient animals. Of course, for Europeans the elephant is just an inhabitant of the zoo or circus, whereas for the inhabitants of Asia and Africa it is an indispensable assistant for hundreds of years. We know so little about these amazing animals, and some of our knowledge is also erroneous, so let’s try to debunk some myths about elephants.
Elephants are afraid of mice.
This is the most common myth about elephants, replicable even in children’s cartoons. Scientists have conducted several experiments, wishing to refute or confirm this belief. In a pile of elephant manure, researchers hid the mouse, hoping to show it to the elephants when they approach. It should be noted that, having noticed the mouse, the elephant was very surprised and preferred to retire. The experiment was repeated several times, and the result would be the same. Elephants, after seeing the mouse, really preferred to stay away from it. This is not due to the fearfulness of elephants, but to their natural caution. These animals prefer to stay away from unknown and incomprehensible creatures, but do not panic at the same time. So this myth can be considered partly fair. In other experiments, elephants did not rush at all, but quietly trampled on small rodents, which once again confirms the assertion that there is no fear of mice in elephants.
Thousands of elephants die each year, but almost no one has seen the corpses of these animals in such numbers. There are old legends about the fact that elephants have their own cemeteries, hidden by impassable jungle, where they go to die, feeling the approach of the end. In South India, it is believed that the elephant cemetery is in a remote lake, which is not accessible to humans.
John Sanderson headed the elephant capture station for 13 years and in his book says that he saw the remains of the dead elephants only twice, and they died as a result of accidents. In Africa there is an opinion that these animals, like giving the last debt, bury their relatives. The researchers describe cases when healthy elephants help patients, and near a deceased fellow these giant animals can stay up to three days. There are cases when elephants covered the body of the deceased fellow with grass and branches or carried the remnants to great distances, however these are only single actions that further denote the riddle. Decades of research have not answered this riddle. However, in the 18th century, heaps of elephant bones, crowned with idols and human bones, were found in Angola, but scientists concluded that this formation is the work of man, not of nature.
Scientists have their own point of view on this phenomenon, which explains the phenomenon of the disappearance of corpses by the elephant’s feeding system itself. In old age, the elephant atrophies muscles, and teeth fall out.Weak, the animal searches for deep and damp places to support its existence. There, in the mud, the weakened elephant finally sticks, losing mobility. His body is gnawed by crocodiles and scavengers, and the skeleton is destroyed by water. Vultures and parrots penetrate inside the corpse through the anal and oral openings, and porcupines eat the bone marrow, destroying tusks. The jungle is a wonderful utilizer, helping the elephants escape after death. According to zoologists, the giant cemetery, as such does not exist – Africa itself is a continuous elephant cemetery.
The intoxicated elephant is extremely dangerous.
This legend is very common among tourists who are going to visit Africa. It is said that drunken elephants and elephants, crazed, rush through the steppes, breaking down buildings and crushing small animals. There are rumors that they almost keep people in ambush, striving to catch unawares. All these are solid myths. Often stories about this are included in the guidebooks in order to give the journey a raid of danger and extreme. Elephants do eat the fruits of marula, but they do not get drunk at all. Although these fruits and contain alcohol, but the maximum effect is given only by ripe fallen fruit, which the elephant will never lift from the ground. It is impossible to imagine an elephant that will stand near a tree with ripe juicy fruits in anticipation of when they will finally ripen and fall into their mouth. Scientists even counted the number of fruits from which the elephant can actually get intoxicated – for this it will take about 27 liters of pure juice, that is, almost one and a half thousand ripe fruits, which is simply unrealistic. But there are many anecdotes about drunken elephants, standing on their hind legs and celebrating need in bushes, or talking with travelers. As early as the beginning of the 19th century, scientists came to the conclusion that elephants eat these fruits for warming, people just really want to see a drunken elephant, so they believe in this myth.
All elephants are gray.
Actually, elephants can be of different colors – there are pinkish, gray, smoky and even white elephants. In Thailand, white elephants are very popular, which are very rare and are used for royal needs, being a symbol of power. In this country there is even a special commission, which is engaged in the search and selection of such animals. The white elephant even caused the war between Burma and Thailand about four centuries ago. They are born very rarely, it is believed that the more such animals in the country, the more heavenly will be to the state. A beautiful Thai legend says that the Milky Way is a large herd of white elephants that graze in the night sky. In general, the color of elephants depends on the color of the soil on which these animals live, as well as on the dust that they shower each other.
The main function of an elephant is to transfer weights.
History is widely known for the use of elephants as combat units, in Southeast Asia, they replaced the cavalry, were a vehicle or an intimidating means. The troops that had elephants in their ranks had the maximum chances of victory, and the more these soldiers were in the army, the greater the likelihood of success. Battle elephants even had a special harness. The other side of these animals is also interesting. In the city of Lampang there is even a whole elephant center in which the inhabitants differ from their relatives in the ability to draw and play on various musical instruments. Of course, this action takes place with the help of a person holding the canvas and helping to dunk the brush into the paint. This center is very popular with tourists who willingly buy the pictures they like. There also pass exhibitions of the most interesting works. Therefore, we should not reduce the possibilities of these animals only to physical work, the possibilities of elephants are diverse and, no doubt, man still has to learn a lot about elephants.
Elephants are good and simple creatures.
No matter how! Do not underestimate the cunning and temper of these animals.An animal that is angry with something will not stop at nothing, demolishing buildings, trampling people, so do not tease them. An example of the same trick of elephants can serve as one case in the plantations of sugar cane, when fenced with wire under electric current, the ground was still visited by elephants. How did this happen? Cunning people pulled the tree from the root by throwing it on the wire, breaking the fence and, through the formed passage, one by one the animals penetrated the field, proceeding to eat delicacies.
Elephants are afraid of bees.
But this statement is not a myth at all. Zoologists conducted studies that confirmed that these giant animals are really afraid of bees. Hearing the alarmed swarm, elephants immediately leave this territory. In Kenya, elephants diligently avoid those bushes on which the most complete beehives are located. In Zimbabwe, elephants even changed their habitual migration routes. However, this caution is easy to understand – after all, honey bees in Africa are very aggressive, even the case when an enraged swarm even killed an African buffalo is documented. The scientists decided to clarify this fact by recording the sounds produced by the bee hive. After that, in the trunk of the trees were placed wireless speakers, from which the recorded sounds were heard. Of 17 families located under the trees, 16 retreated within one and a half minutes, and half in general – in 10 seconds. It is important to note that it was the whole flock that left, and not the individual representatives. These studies will help protect both buildings and sites from elephants, and elephants themselves from meeting with a man, as a result of which animals often die.
Elephants can stand on their heads.
This belief exists for almost every one of us – after all, we ourselves saw circus numbers. However, in nature, elephants never stand on their heads. On the arena these numbers look pretty innocuous and even funny, but few people know that behind this are exhausting and brutal training. Using beatings and food deprivation, elephants are forced to perform circus numbers, although these movements are contrary to the natural manners of the animal. For example, standing on one foot for an animal is just dangerous, because it is subject to excessive overload. However, lashes, injections in sensitive places and even exposure to current do their job – this effect is much more palpable than pain in overstrain of joints. For elephants, even the bite of a wasp is very unpleasant, the skin begins to bleed. Therefore, in the circus elephants are under constant mental and physical pressure, fearing pain, waiting for food. Unfortunately – this is the only way to get animals to do unintended actions by nature.
Elephants are hulking animals.
Despite the apparent cumbersomeness, these are rather graceful creatures, they walk rhythmically at a speed of about 6 km / h, and can run at short speeds up to 40 km / h. Of course, the elephant can not jump at a gallop and jump. Even the wide ditch, which the elephant can not cross, becomes an insuperable obstacle for him. These animals also swim well, maintaining a speed of about 1.6 km / h in water for almost 6 hours.