7 Elephant Facts You've Never Heard Of

7 Elephant Facts You've Never Heard Of

Elephants are one of the mostly widely persecuted animals on earth. And while poaching across the elephants' range continues to negatively impact elephants in some areas, as Ivan Carter, host of Carter's War on the Outdoor Channel has experienced, certain countries have thriving populations, thanks to solid conservation efforts, many of which are funded by revenues produced by controlled sport hunting. Here are some elephant facts you may not be aware of.

1. Size Matters

The elephant is the largest terrestrial creature currently inhabiting the planet and is also the world's largest game animal. In Botswana, southern Angola, northern Namibia, and western Zimbabwe, a mature bull can exceed seven tons (14,000 pounds). That is nearly 30 times larger than an elk, and as much as 100 times larger than a human.

2. All In The Family


Although mature bulls are generally solitary or in the company of other bulls, elephants are herd animals in a matriarchal society. The basic unit is a family group, typically led by the grandmother and including her grown daughters and their offspring. This unit may range from 10 to a couple dozen, and they remain together almost constantly, rarely separated by more than 50 yards.


Elephant ivory grows very slowly at first, and also slowly with age, but in his 20s and 30s, a bull can put on several pounds of ivory per year. Photo credit: carterswar.com

Two or three family groups may roam together in a looser association, and sometimes elephants will form into herds into the hundreds during migration or times of stress. Bulls will be seen in such large gatherings, but they rarely join a family group unless one or another female is in season. Large gatherings are temporary primarily because of requirements for food and water.

3. A Jumbo Appetite

An elephant must consume about six percent of its weight in forage daily over 500 pounds. Given a choice, they are highly selective feeders, but in hard times they will eat almost any plant material.


4. All About Breeding

Mating can occur at any time of the year. The gestation period is 22 months, with single calves the norm and twins possible. Longevity is based on tooth wear, but the average lifespan is into the 60s. Although elephants are slow breeders, they are steady producers. In the wild and absent unusual factors, an elephant herd can be expected to grow at four to five percent per year. Countries with herds in excess of 100,000 elephants can experience fairly dramatic growth in a relatively short time.

Weighing in at a massive 6,000-10,000 pounds, the elephant is one of the largest mammals on the planet. It's also one of the most misunderstood. Photo credit: carterswar.com


5. What's In The Trunk?

Although eyesight is poor, elephants have superb hearing and an unexcelled sense of smell. But the trunk isn't just for smelling! The tip has two prehensile "fingers" that can grip small objects. And the trunk is also used as a breathing tube while crossing deep water.

6. Tuskonomy

An elephant's tusk grows throughout its life but not at the oft-stated "one pound per year." Elephant ivory grows very slowly at first, and also slowly with age, but in his 20s and 30s, a bull can put on several pounds of ivory per year.

The heaviest known elephant tusks were taken on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1886. Still in the British Museum, they weigh 226 and 214 pounds. No other elephant is known to have exceeded 200 pounds on either tusk.

7. Elephants Are Not Endangered

Elephants are difficult to count across the vastness of Africa, but the most conservative estimates place total numbers at about 600,000. More generous estimates suggest as many as a million. Either way, although locally threatened in many areas, the African elephant is not and never was "endangered."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Sighting In the CZ .557 Carbine

Kevin Steele sights in his CZ .557 carbine rifle that he plans to use on a Colorado elk hunt.

Whitetail Shot Placement

Whitetail Shot Placement

Craig Boddington breaks down where hunters should aim for the best penetration of the vitals on a whitetail deer.

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Fare Game: Stuffed Elk Backstrap

Take your venison loin to a whole new level with this delicious reverse-seared stuffed elk backstrap. Smoking the backstrap on a Camp Chef Woodwind pellet grill first, then finishing it on a blazing-hot skillet or flattop, creates a perfectly cooked, medium-rare steak with a crispy, seared exterior. The filling of diced mushrooms and creamy Boursin cheese adds a whole new level of amazing flavors to an otherwise classic smoked venison loin.

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Camp Chef at SHOT Show: Elk Venison Slider Burgers Recipe

Have a freezer full of ground elk venison from your fall hunting trips? Never fear, the folks at Camp Chef have a great SHOT Show recipe that is lean and mean, easy to prepare, and a crowd-pleasing favorite!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing strategies. Conservation

Are New Hunter Recruitment Strategies Working?

Andrew McKean - May 05, 2020

The outdoor industry gets serious about recruiting new hunters with some curious marketing...

Stay safe, and sane, when face troubles overseas. How-To

How to Avoid Travel Problems on International Hunting Trips

Craig Boddington

Stay safe, and sane, when face troubles overseas.

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are created equal. Recipes

How to Properly Grill Venison Steak

Hank Shaw

Perfection takes practice, a little skill and the understanding that not all steaks are...

Learn how to grill the perfect medium-rare venison steak with these tips and tricks. Recipes

Venison Grilling Tips

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Learn how to grill the perfect medium-rare venison steak with these tips and tricks.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

If there's anything we rednecks love more than our women, beer and country music, it's gotta be our Stories

The Redneck Mini-Pickup-Van

Awesome Rednecks - September 09, 2013

If there's anything we rednecks love more than our women, beer and country music, it's gotta...

Elephants are one of the mostly widely persecuted animals on earth. And while poaching across the Stories

7 Elephant Facts You've Never Heard Of

Craig Boddington - December 29, 2015

Elephants are one of the mostly widely persecuted animals on earth. And while poaching across...

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado! Stories

Texas Turkey Hunting With a Spring "Twist"

Lynn Burkhead - April 27, 2020

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

These outdoor jobs sound like the dream, but they're not all glamorous. Stories

10 So-Called Dream Jobs vs. Harsh Reality

David Draper

These outdoor jobs sound like the dream, but they're not all glamorous.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Hunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now