The Nature of Elephants

Is there anything cuter than a baby elephant?  We were surprised and thrilled to see so many herds of African Elephants in Botswana and Zambia during the month of May.  May is not generally considered a peak month for tourism in these countries, but we saw every animal you could wish for - and virtually every species we saw had babies in tow!

African elephants are the world's largest land animals, and the baby's are born weighing about 250  pounds.  A baby elephant is born into an extended family of adult female elephants, all of whom help to raise and protect the vulnerable youngsters. Male elephants are part of the herd until they are about fourteen years old.  At that time the teen-aged male elephant is kicked out of the family group and will either live on it's own or hook up with other young males.  Evidently, humans are not the only species who can expect trouble whenever young adult males are around!

For the first months of their lives, baby elephants will walk underneath their mothers whenever the family group travels.  We were astounded to see this tiny one crossing the road in Chobe National Park in Botswana.  It turned out that the elephants are headed for the river to drink and bathe.

Elephants love the water.  They drink it in massive quantities (adults consume thirty to fifty gallons per day!), and they love to cool off in the water and take mud baths as well.  Elephants cover themselves with mud to protect their skin from insects and from the often brutal African sun.  

I still have a lot to learn about elephants, but I can't believe anyone could possibly resist falling in love with elephant babies and elephant moms!  

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