The elephant is one of the most easily recognisable animals in the whole wide world. African elephants and Asian elephants are true gentle giants. Many of us have seen them in zoos, and some of us have even been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitats. A gentle giant of nature, the elephant is a truly amazing creature, that without the help of conservationists and charities, could be completely wiped out within a matter of decades. The sad truth is that their habitats are being crushed to make way for infrastructure projects, and poachers are still taking aim to at these beautiful beasts to meet the demands of the illegal ivory trade.

African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are slightly larger than their Asian cousins and can be identified by their larger ears that look somewhat like the continent of Africa. (Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears.)

Elephant ears radiate heat to help keep these large animals cool, but sometimes the African heat is too much. Elephants are fond of water and enjoy showering by sucking water into their trunks and spraying it all over themselves. Afterwards, they often spray their skin with a protective coating of dust.

General Elephant Facts

Did you know that the word “Elephant” is actually latin for “huge Arch”? These animals certainly are huge and impressive beasts. In fact, the elephant is the largest living land mammal in the world.
A male elephant can grow up to 4 metres in height and weigh up to 7 tonnes; whilst their females counterparts can still weigh in at a mere 3.5 tonnes.

To feed an animal of such gigantic proportions takes a lot of food. Their daily food intake is almost as much as 4-7% of their body weight. When you are an elephant, that equates to finding and eating an awful lot of food. As you would expect, all that food needs to be digested and dozed off, which is why our elephant friends can deposit upwards of 150 kg of dung daily! Eew! Elephants are herbivores and only eat grasses, herbs, fruit, plants and trees. Their healthy, vegetarian diet is obviously good for them as the average elephant has a life span of around 70 odd years, a bit like we do

Despite their size, they are actually pretty nimble and can walk up to 195 km per day, although they usually only average is only 25 km on a daily basis. They can also run faster than you would expect, easily reaching speeds of 40 mph, which is a lot faster than us humans can run. Where once elephants roamed across the whole of Africa, they are now limited to conservation areas and the Savannah. African and Asian elephants can currently be found in 37 African countries, and across 13 Asian countries.

Most people believe that there are only two species of elephant in the word, but in fact there are three:

  • African savannah, Loxodonta africana
  • African forest, Loxodonta cyclotis
  • Asian, Elephas maximus

How Much Do Elephant Tusks Weigh

Before getting to the weight measurements, it is important to note that the elephants themselves vary in size, with the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) being bigger than the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus). Consequently, the African elephant’s tusks typically weigh more than the Asian elephant’s. Fenale Asian elephants generally lack tusks and present tusk like teeth known as tushes.

The average tusk of an adult African elephant is 1.5–2.4 m (5–8 ft) long and weighs around 23–45 kg (51–99 lbs). I wasn’t able to find a reliable source for the Asian elephant’s average tusk dimensions but the heaviest on record was 1.5 m (4.92 ft) long and weighed 47 kg (104 lbs).

It is interesting to note that there are a specific group of bull elephants known as tuskers whose tusks are so long that they almost touch the ground. They regularly exceed 2 m (ft) and weigh over 100 kg (220 lbs).

The title for the heaviest tusks on record goes to the Kilimanjaro Tusks. They are from a bull elephant killed near Mt. Kilimanjaro in 1898. They are almost 3 m tall as seen below, and weigh a combined total of 183 kg (404 lbs).

What Are The Uses Of Elephant Tusks?

The best use of elephant tusks is for them to be left on elephants, where nature meant for them to be for the life of the animal. In this day and age of synthetic materials, it is immoral for these gentle and intelligent beasts to be slaughtered for their ivory. The sight below is not the last thing that an elephant should see in its difficult and brutal life.

How Much Does An Elephant Tusk Cost?

The price of an elephant tusk is the elephant’s life. It costs the well-being of the elephant’s ecosystem and the mental health of its family. It costs the elephant’s wisdom—where others of the species might find water or safety in times of trouble. It costs the country in which the elephant lived a great source of revenue—throughout a 50 year lifespan, an elephant is estimated to bring in USD $1,000,000 in tourism. It can cost the lives of many a rhino, when young bulls without elders repressing musth kill them in rages. It can cost the lives of other thirsty animals when the elephant isn’t around to dig watering holes in the dry season. It costs the world a beautiful animal.

What Are African Elephant Tusks?

The tusks of elephants are elongated incisor teeth and are made of Ivory. One third of an elephant’s tusk is hidden from view and is embedded deep in the elephant’s head. This part of the elephant’s tusks is a pulp cavity made up of nerves, tissues, and blood whereas the visible part of the elephant tusk is made up of dentine with an outer layer of enamel.

Are Tusks Found On Both Male And Female African Elephants?

For African elephants, tusks can be found on both males and females compared to Asian elephants where tusks are mainly seen only on males. About half of Asian female elephants have short tusks known as tushes. However, looking at an elephant’s tusk, the average size of tusks has decreases over the past hundred years due to the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks. This has caused the African elephant’s “big tusk gene” to evolve and become progressively rare. Additionally, hunting of African elephants has resulted in “tusklessness” to become increasingly common among African elephants.

At What Age Do Elephants Grow Tusks?

Elephant tusks are present at birth but are only milk teeth and eventually the “baby tusks” fall out after one year of age. The permanent tusks of African elephants first start to appear at around two years of age by protruding from the lips and will continue to grow throughout the elephant’s lifetime. As long as an elephant’s tusks has not been broken or damaged, it can reveal an elephant age relative to other elephants.

What Do Elephants Use Their Tusks For?

The tusks on elephants can be used for many purposes. African elephant tusks are mainly used for protection, digging, lifting objects, and gathering food. African elephants will use their tusks as a defense mechanism against other wildlife predators or when another elephant charges toward them. During the dry season elephants will use their tusks to dig water holes in dry riverbeds to get water. To help gather food, elephants will use their tusks to strip bark from trees to eat. Also, elephant tusks are used to protect their sensitive trunk. Interestingly, just like humans tend to be right-hand or left-hand dominate, there is evidence to believe elephants tend to be right-tusked or left-tusked with the dominate tusk being known as the master tusk.

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