Elephants – largest land animal living at present and the downward stream of giant mammals, which include the mammoths are another endangered species on earth. They are existent on this earth for millions of years ,. Adults sometimes weigh about six tons.
Two species of the elephants are found: one is the larger and plentiful African Elephants and the other is the smaller and fewer Asian Elephants or the Indian Elephants. The number of the African elephants has rapidly decreased due to ivory trade, which is used for jewelry, carvings, etc. Less than 50,000 Asian elephants are there in the world.
Elephants presently found on earth are the descendants of the "trunked" family of mammals. Elephants help light-dependent plants grow and survive by creating roadways, elephant dung acts as the fertilizer for many plants in the forest, and other wild animals find water in the wells dug by the elephants in search of water. African elephants are found in the sub-Saharan Africa in about 37 countries. They usually inhabit in the dense African rainforests of Central and Western Africa. The Asian elephants are found in the large parts of India, Sri Lanka, Indo-china territory and Indonesia. The trunk of the elephant is the boneless elongation of the upper lip and nose, which is powerful enough to tear a tree as well as pick up hundreds of pounds. There are about forty thousand muscles in it. It can draw about 50 gallons of water into the trunk everyday.
Tusks are found in both the male and the female African elephants, while in the Asian elephants it is found in the males only. The elephant's trunk is long and it is the most important part of the elephant's body. African elephants have two fingerlike projections at the tip of the trunk, while the Asian elephants have only one such projection.
The trunk of the elephant is very strong and it is very much sensitive also. The tusks, known as the ivory tusks, are the enlarged protruding incisor teeth and have the recorded length of 10 feet. These are used by the elephant as the instruments to dig ground in search of water, salt and roots, to take the bark of trees away, to eat the bark, to move trees and branches to clear the path; and also as a weapon against adversities. Humans use this trunk as a decorative arts, game pieces and musical instruments. The large ears with flaps of the elephants are used to keep the body surface cool in hot days.
Elephants are vegetarian in food habit. Grass, bamboo, twig, bark, roots, fruits, seeds and flowers are among the food list of an elephant. An adult elephant eat 300-600 pound of food in a day. But 60% of the eaten food comes out of the body of the elephant undigested. Among the land animals the elephants have the longest gestation period of 22 months.
Life and existence of this ancient animal is endangered due to loss of habitation, killing of the animal for ivory and meat, especially in the Central Africa. Like the gorillas, elephants are also killed for bush meat trade. Elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory tusks, commercial trade of which is internationally banned. Japan is the main consumer of ivory. To help this species live without the risk of being killed for illegal trade we should avoid ivory and other elephant products, rather we should use various stones, plastic and gems like jade in place of ivory.
We should try to create awareness among our near ones against killing of the entire animal for the tusks and explain how buying products of the tusks help killing of the elephants. We should stretch our hands to help those who are working for the protection and conservation of elephants through raising funds to support them and creating general awareness that ivory and other elephant products are internationally banned; and hence buyers of these products are likely to be fined.