Elephants Elephants are the largest land-dwelling mammals on earth. They are brown to dark gray in color and have long, coarse hairs sparsely covering their bodies. They have very thick skin that keeps them cool. Elephant trunks serve as another limb. A fusion of the nose and upper lip, the trunk may contain more than 40,000 muscles that help the elephant use it to gather food and water. They also have large ears and thick tree-trunklike legs to support their great weight. They are 5-14 feet at shoulders (males); females of all subspecies are smaller than males. Their trunks are up to 30 feet trunk to tail. They weight 6,000-15,000 pounds. Their lifespan is up to 70 years. There are two distinct species of elephants: the African elephant (genus: Loxodonta) and the Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). There are a number of differences between the two species – overall size, ear size, tusks and shape of the back and forehead among others. Elephant ears are large, thin, and full of veins. This allows blood to circulate through them and help cool off this large mammal. When they fan their ears, they're looking to cool off! They eat grasses, leaves, bamboo, bark, roots. Elephants are also known to eat crops like banana and sugarcane which are grown by farmers. Adult elephants eat 300-400 lbs of food per day. At the turn of the 20th century, there were a few million African elephants and about 100,000 Asian elephants. Today, there are an estimated 450,000 - 700,000 African elephants and between 35,000 - 40,000 wild Asian elephants. African savannah elephants are found in savannah zones in 37 countries south of the Sahara Desert. African forest elephants inhabit the dense rain forests of west and central Africa. The Asian elephant is found in India, Sri Lanka, China and much of Southeast Asia. Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15 and may lead solitary lives or live temporarily with other males. Elephants are extremely intelligent animals and have memories that span many years. It is this memory that serves matriarchs well during dry seasons when they need to guide their herds, sometimes for tens of miles, to watering holes that they remember from the past. They also display signs of grief, joy, anger and play. Elephants don't have bones in their trunk, just muscle, and can use them with extreme dexterity, to pick up and manipulate even very tiny items.