Elephants are a family of the largest and most powerful living land mammals. These are tall pachyderms of tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Elephants are divided into two genera - Indian elephants and African elephants.
Elephants have massive heads and bodies, a long trunk, large fan-shaped ears and tusks. The boneless, muscular trunk of elephants is a fused and highly elongated upper lip and nose. It is generally accepted that the elephant is an intelligent animal, although its brain, albeit large in absolute size, is disproportionately small in comparison with its enormous body mass.
These animals feed on young shoots of shrubs and trees, as well as tubers and even tree bark. To maintain normal weight and strength, the animal needs to receive about 250 kg of feed and 190 liters of water per day.
Elephants live in flocks, which consist of one to four families and unite under the leadership of one of the females 30-50 individuals, including many elephants. The life expectancy of elephants under favorable conditions can reach 60 years.
Watching these large animals, you feel involuntary respect and admiration for them. It seems that these are very calm, intelligent and ancient animals. Of course, for the inhabitants of Europe, the elephant is just an inhabitant of the zoo or circus, while for the inhabitants of Asia and Africa it is an indispensable assistant for hundreds of years. We know so little about these amazing animals, and some of our knowledge is also wrong, so we will try to debunk some myths about elephants.
Elephants are afraid of mice. This is the most common myth about elephants, replicated even in children's cartoons. Scientists have conducted several experiments, wanting to refute or confirm this belief. The researchers hid a mouse in a pile of elephant dung, hoping to show it to the elephants when they approach. It should be noted that, having noticed the mouse, the elephant was very surprised and preferred to retire. The experiment was repeated several times, and the result would be the same. The elephants, when they saw the mouse, really preferred to stay away from it. This is not due to the fearfulness of elephants, but to their natural caution. These animals prefer to stay away from unknown and incomprehensible creatures, but without panic. So this myth can be considered partly fair. In the course of other experiments, elephants did not run away at all, but calmly trampled on small rodents, which once again confirms the assertion that elephants have no fear of mice.
Elephant cemetery. Thousands of elephants die every year, but almost no one has seen the corpses of these animals in such numbers. There are long-standing legends that elephants have their own cemeteries, hidden by impenetrable jungle, where they go to die, feeling the end approaching. In South India, it is believed that the elephant cemetery is located in a remote lake with no access to humans.
John Sanderson ran the station for capturing elephants for 13 years and in his book says that he saw the remains of dead elephants only twice, and even those died as a result of accidents. In Africa, there is an opinion that these animals, as if paying their last debt, bury their relatives. Researchers describe cases when healthy elephants help sick ones, and these giant animals can stay around a deceased brother for up to three days. There have been cases when elephants covered the body of a deceased brother with grass and branches or transported the found remains over long distances, but these are only isolated actions that further denote a mystery. Decades of research have never answered this mystery. True, in the 18th century in Angola, piles of ivory were found, crowned with idols and human bones, but scientists came to the conclusion that this formation was the work of man's hands, not nature.
Scientists have their own point of view on this phenomenon, which explains the phenomenon of the disappearance of corpses by the elephant's feeding system itself. In old age, the elephant's muscles atrophy and teeth fall out. Weakening, the animal seeks deep and humid places to support its existence. There, in the silt, the weakened elephant finally gets stuck, losing mobility. His body is gnawed by crocodiles and scavengers, and the skeleton is destroyed by water. Kites and parrots penetrate inside the corpse through the anal and oral openings, and porcupines eat the bone marrow, destroying the tusks. The jungle is a great recycler, helping elephants hide after death. According to zoologists, a giant cemetery does not exist as such - Africa itself is a continuous cemetery for elephants.
An intoxicated elephant is extremely dangerous. This legend is very common among tourists who are going to visit Africa. They say that drunken elephants and female elephants, maddened, rush across the steppes, breaking buildings and crushing small animals. There are rumors that they are almost looking for people in ambush, trying to catch them by surprise. All these are sheer myths. Often stories about this are included in guidebooks in order to give the journey a touch of danger and extreme. Elephants do eat marula fruits, but they don't get drunk at all. Although these fruits contain alcohol, the maximum effect is given only by ripe fallen fruits, which the elephant will never lift from the ground. It is impossible to imagine an elephant standing near a tree with ripe juicy fruits, waiting for the final ripeness and fall into their mouth. Scientists have even calculated the number of fruits from which an elephant can actually get drunk - this will require about 27 liters of pure juice, that is, almost one and a half thousand ripe fruits, which is simply unrealistic. But there are many anecdotes about drunken elephants standing on their hind legs and relieving themselves in the bushes, or talking with travelers. Back in the early 19th century, scientists came to the conclusion that elephants eat these fruits for warming, but people just really want to see a drunk elephant, and therefore they believe in this myth.
All elephants are gray. In fact, elephants can be of different colors - there are pinkish, gray, smoky and even white elephants. In Thailand, white elephants are especially popular, which are very rare and are used for royal needs, as a symbol of power. In this country, there is even a special commission that is looking for and selecting such animals. The white elephant even caused a war between Burma and Thailand about four centuries ago. They are born extremely rarely, it is believed that the more such animals in the country, the more favorable the heavens will be to the state. A beautiful Thai legend says that the Milky Way is a large herd of white elephants that graze in the night sky. In general, the color of elephants depends on the color of the soil on which these animals live, as well as on the dust with which they shower each other.
The main function of an elephant is to carry weights. The use of elephants as combat units is widely known in history; in Southeast Asia, they replaced cavalry, were a vehicle or a frightening means. Troops with elephants in their composition had the maximum chances of victory, and the more of these fighters in the army, the greater the likelihood of success. War elephants even had a special harness. The other side of these animals is also interesting. In the city of Lampang, there is even a whole elephant center, in which the inhabitants differ from their relatives in their ability to draw and play various musical instruments. Of course, this action takes place with the help of a person holding the canvas and helping to dip the brush into the paint. This center is very popular with tourists who willingly buy the paintings they like. There are also exhibitions of the most interesting works. Therefore, one should not reduce the capabilities of these animals only to physical work, the capabilities of elephants are diverse and, no doubt, a person still has to learn a lot about elephants.
Elephants are kind and ingenuous creatures. Whatever it is! Don't underestimate the cunning and nature of these animals. An angry animal will stop at nothing, demolishing buildings, trampling people, so you should not tease them. An example of the cunning of elephants can serve as one case on a sugarcane plantation, when the lands fenced with electric wires were still visited by elephants. How did this happen? The sly ones uprooted the tree, throwing it onto the wire, breaking the fence and, through the formed passage, one after another, the animals entered the field, starting to eat the delicacies.
Elephants are afraid of bees. But this statement is not a myth at all. Zoologists have conducted studies that have confirmed that these giant animals are actually afraid of bees. Having heard the alarmed swarm, the elephants immediately leave this territory. In Kenya, elephants diligently bypass those bushes on which the most complete hives are located. In Zimbabwe, elephants even changed their habitual migration routes. However, such caution is easy to understand - after all, African honeybees are very aggressive, even a case has been recorded when an angry swarm even killed an African buffalo. Scientists decided to clarify this fact by recording the sounds made by the bee hive. After that, wireless speakers were located in the fake tree trunks, from which recorded sounds were heard. Of the 17 families located under the trees, 16 retreated within one and a half minutes, and half in general - in 10 seconds. It is important to note that it was the entire herd that left, not individual representatives. This research will help protect both buildings and land from elephants, and the elephants themselves from meeting with humans, as a result of which animals often die.
Elephants can stand on their heads. Almost all of us have this conviction - after all, we ourselves have seen circus acts. However, in nature, elephants never stand on their heads. On the arena, these numbers look pretty harmless and even funny, but few people know that exhausting and brutal training is behind this. Using beatings and deprivation of food, elephants are forced to perform circus acts, although these movements contradict the natural manners of the animal. For example, standing on one leg is simply dangerous for an animal, since it is exposed to excessive overload. However, lashes, injections into sensitive areas and even exposure to electric current do their job - this effect is much more noticeable than pain when the joints are overstrained. For elephants, even a wasp sting is very unpleasant, the skin begins to bleed. Therefore, in the circus, elephants are under constant mental and physical pressure, fearing pain, waiting for food. Unfortunately, this is the only way to force animals to do actions that were not foreseen by nature.
Elephants are clumsy animals. Despite the seeming bulkiness, these are rather graceful creatures, with rhythmic steps they walk at a speed of about 6 km / h, and they can run short distances at speeds up to 40 km / h. Of course, an elephant cannot gallop and jump. Even a wide ditch, which the elephant cannot cross, becomes an insurmountable obstacle for him. These animals also swim well, maintaining a speed of approximately 1.6 km / h in water for almost 6 hours.