Interesting facts about elephants

elephant eating

After I’d been to Africa for a few times, I thought elephants wouldn’t amaze me anymore. You see them quite often on game drives and we think we know most there is to know about them. But every time I notice something I had never noticed before. And what always impresses me, is the size of an adult male. They are really huge, especially when they walk close to the vehicle and you really get eye to eye with them.

In this post I want to share some things I discovered about elephants that I didn’t know before. Or maybe I knew, but never saw it with my own eyes.


Here’s one to start with: the little ones are often kept in the middle of the herd and the mother is never far away. Especially when they move there is a kind of hierarchy and it’s obvious the smallest need protection. In this photo below you can see that the little one walks between mom and an aunt.

The youngest elephants are protected by the group when moving staying in between the grown ups

Missing tusk

Sometimes you see elephants with a broken or missing tusk. They still manage to do everything even without it, but for some it must be difficult. They use the tusk to take the bark off certain trees and they have a preference of one over the other, so when you use your favourite tusk, you will have to get used to using the other one. Otherwise they seem perfectly fine. Older elephants often have some damage to their ears. Some have little holes or on the edges pieces are missing. Also in this cases, they don’t seem to be bothered with it.

This elephant bull only has one tusk. It looks in perfect health though


So what if your ear itches? A dog or a cat would use one of their hind legs to give it a good scratch, but if you’re an elephant that proves a little difficult. But an elephant has something other animals don’t, their trunk! Now you can see why little elephants take a while to master their trunk. You can do so many things with it, but it takes quite some practice.

Scratching ones ear is easy if you have a long flexible trunk

Smart feeding

Elephants are really smart when it comes to eating. If they find something they like, they will do a lot to get it. Here the grass was green and fresh, but a little bit too short to strap it with just the trunk. So here’s the solution. You press the grass between you foot and your trunk and lift it… It was a joy seeing this and he clearly enjoyed it.

So tired

Even elephants need rest, but apart from the little ones, you never see them lying down. This bull had a refreshing mud bath and then thought it would be nice to have a little nap. So he rested his tusks on a few branches of a tree, so his neck would not have to bear the weight of his head and tusks. At first we thought he might topple over the tree, but he was just standing there, resting.

Just giving the neck a rest

That look

One last thing I’ve noticed, more than once, but always impressive, is that when you watch an elephant on the side of the road and you have turned of the engine, they want to cross the road. Usually your guide already thought this could happen and stopped in a place where the elephant does not feel that the car is in its way. So the elephant starts crossing the road, right in front of the vehicle and then he turns his head and gives it a little shake, or just turns his head for a quick stare. Just to let you know who’s boss around here. It’s always a moment where you feel so small, but yet so fortunate to be able to see such a magnificent animal up close.

That look when he crosses…

Elephants are amazing animals and we’re always grateful when we can watch them from close by. Join us on one of our tours and see these magnificent animals for yourself.

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