Elephants are the largest and heaviest land animals that exist on Earth at the moment. They’re probably also the most intelligent domesticated animal. They have the longest noses of any animal. They have the longest teeth, these are known as tusks. Their gestation period is the longest and it may be that they have the longest memories as well. This article will help you learn some other fun facts about elephants.
Elephants have lived all over the earth, everywhere except Australia and Antarctica. They have lived in rainforests, deserts and glaciers.
Species of elephant
There were possibly 300 species of elephant. We now just have 2 left, the African elephant and the Asian elephant. There are two subspecies of the African elephant, the bush elephant and the round-eared elephant. Then there are three subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Sri Lankan, Indian and Sumatran elephants.
Male and female elephants (also known as bulls and cows) don’t live together. Usually, bulls will live together and the cows and their offspring will live together. The cows and calves (which are baby elephants) are usually in a herd which is led by an older elephant who will be a grandmother or maybe even a great-grandmother.
Mammoths and mastodons.
Many people will have heard of the woolly mammoth and know that it is one of the elephants’ extinct relatives. A woolly mammoth was found by a fisherman in Russia in 1799. It was frozen in a block of ice. Many other woolly mammoth tusks have been found in this area.
In North America, there were also some mammoths found but there were more mastodon remains found. Mastodons were similar to mammoths but they were shaped slightly differently. The mammoth had back which sloped downwards towards their tails, whereas mastodons have backs which are more level.
Ivory boomerang – Poland 23000 years ago
Stone Age tools weapons
Elephants have large round feet and are designed to walk quietly around the forest when they want to. As they put their feet down on the ground the size of their feet expands slightly. Most elephants have five toes on each foot, but some African elephants only have four toes. However, their toes do not stick out like ours do but are covered in skin. Their “toenails” are attached to the front of the round foot rather than their toe bones and look a bit like hooves.
The Elephant’s Trunk
An elephant’s trunk is a bit like having a combined arm and a nose.
The trunk will suck up water and then put it into its mouth so that it doesn’t have to put its head right down to the water to drink. You will also see elephants squirt water all over their bodies and also each other as a game.
The end of the African elephants’ trunk seems to operate almost like a finger and thumb. It can pick things up and even take grit out of its eyes.
The Asian elephant seems to have one finger on its trunk so it picks things up by curling its trunk around them.
The elephant can move its trunk in any direction and it can also stretch its trunk to reach things.
Tusks are the elephant’s front two teeth but they have grown much bigger than the other teeth. They can grow about 17 cm or 8 inches per year. They are used as tools and weapons and sometimes the elephants will sharpen one or both of them to make them more effective.
Unfortunately, many elephants have been killed for their tusks, also known as ivory, as poachers have been able to sell them for a lot of money. Tusks don’t wear out and last a whole lifetime unless they get damaged.
An ivory boomerang was found in Poland. It was thought to be 23,000 years ago
Ivory was used in the Stone Age both to make tools and weapons.
The Other Teeth
Elephants also have to lower teeth which they use to grind up their food. These teeth do get worn out and they get replaced about 6 times in an elephant’s lifetime. Each replacement is bigger than the last. Final teeth will be about the size of house bricks.
Elephants are constantly eating
Ok, not constantly! But for about three-quarters of the day and night elephants are collecting and eating their food. Elephants eat from 100 to 200 kg of food in the wild. They eat plants, they are herbivores, but they can’t eat cellulose which makes up a lot of what plants are made of. This is why elephant poo doesn’t contain much undigested plant fibre or seeds.
Elephants like bananas, other fruits and sugar cane so they are happy when they find these but they also trample these crops and push over the trees. This is a major problem for the people who have cultivated these as they can have their livelihood destroyed.
Watch this video and see if you can answer these questions?
Can you name 5 things that elephants eat?
How old are the male elephants when they stop living with their female relatives?
For how long are female elephants pregnant?
How much does a baby elephant weigh when it is born?
Which elephants can’t run? Why can’t they?
What is special about elephants and mirrors?
How do elephants protect their skin from sunlight?
Some Baby Elephant Clips
Some Elephants Running to Greet their Friend
Elephants Can Hear Through Their Feet!
The first minute of this video gives you an overview, carry on with the video if you what to know more about the science behind this.
There are 54 countries in Africa. Here is a list and some interesting information about them. So next time someone asks, “How many countries in Africa?” you can tell them more than just the number.
Here is a list in alphabetical order (except I put the 2 Congos together) with some interesting facts about each country. These are not necessarily the most important things about each of these countries but they just grabbed my attention.
The countries and a few facts about them
Algeria – Algeria is the largest country by area in Africa. It produces some of the best dates in the world.
Angola – Nearly 70% of the people in Angola are under 24 years old. Dreadlocks were first worn in Angola.
Benin – Royal pythons are worshipped in Benin. There is a place called the Temple of Pythons which houses about 50 adult royal pythons.
Botswana – Many people around the world feel they know a bit about Botswana because the book “The First Ladies Detective Agency” was set in Botswana. There are large areas for animals to roam around in Botswana as about 40% of the land is made up of nature reserves and national parks.
Burkina Faso – Burkina Faso is the largest producer of cotton in Africa. It is known as “white gold”. Its capital city is called Ouagadougou which is pronounced Wagadugu!
Burundi – at Mugere in Burundi is the Livingstone-Stanley Monument. It overlooks Lake Tanganyika and marks the spot where David Livingstone met Henry Morton Stanley and spent a couple of nights there in 1781. 92% of the population of Burundi still live in rural areas and group jogging is banned!
Cabo Verde – Cabo Verde is also known as the Cape Verde islands. The islands are covered with mountains which makes growing food difficult. There is lots of interesting marine life around including Loggernest Turtles and Humpback Whales.
Cameroon – Cameroon has a lake called Lake Nyos which is considered the most dangerous in the world as it has poisonous gases from a local volcano going into it. People come to Cameroon to see the hippos and also the forest deer which are called bongos. The bongos have white stripes on them which helps to camouflage them.
Central African Republic – The Central African Republic as its name suggests is in the middle of Africa. It has lots of lowland gorillas and forest elephants.
Chad – If you go to the to the Tibesti Mountains in Chad you can see some of the best camel racing in the world. About a third of the country is covered by the Sahara desert. The country is named after Lake Chad. Lake Chad has shrunk by about 95% since 1963 but it’s still the 17th largest lake in the world.
Comoros – The Comoros is made up of three tropical islands with amazing beaches. There is an active volcano called Mount Karthala which has erupted more than 20 times since the 19th century.
Democratic Republic of the Congo – The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the only country where wild bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas are found. We need to make sure that they don’t become extinct.
Republic of the Congo – One of the major rivers in the Republic of the Congo is the Congo River which is the deepest in the world in some places. Depths of over 220 metres have been recorded.
Cote d’Ivoire – The Cote d’Ivoire has the largest church in the world which was modelled on the Vatican and finished in 1990. It can hold a congregation of 18000. However, it is rarely that full. The national football team is called Les Éléphants.
Djibouti – Lake Assal in Djibouti is saltier than the Dead Sea. After the sun sets taxi fares increase by about 50%.
Egypt – The Egyptian alphabet has over 700 hieroglyphs! Most of Egypt is made up of desert – The Sahara and Libyan Deserts.
Equatorial Guinea – Spanish is the official language. The Goliath frog lives here. The Goliath frog is large – it is about a foot long and weighs more than 3 kilos!
Eritrea – Eritrea means “red”, it is named after the Red Sea. It is likely that early humans migrated out of Africa from Eritrea.
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) – The Ngwenya Mine is considered to be the world’s oldest mine – red ochre was extracted about 43,000 years ago and then iron later on. There are many rock paintings – some are as old as 25,000 B.C., others maybe just a couple of hundred years old.
Ethiopia – a human fossil which is about 3 million years old and known as Lucy was found in Ethiopia in 1974. Since then even older fossils were found in 2001. These fossils are about 5 million years old and are the oldest human remains ever found.
Gabon – The first people to live in Gabon were pygmies. The president is called Ali Bongo Ondimba which I think is a great name. 80% of Africa’s gorillas live here.
Gambia – Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. It Is also very narrow. At its widest, it is just 30 miles wide. One of Gambia’s largest exports is peanuts.
Ghana – Ghana used to be known as the Gold Coast. Gold was and is mined there. Ghana has the largest reservoir/artificial lake. It’s over 320 miles long and can be seen from space.
Guinea – There are 22 West African rivers that start in Guinea Including the Niger River, the Gambia River, and the Senegal River.
Guinea-Bissau – People from this region are known as Bissau-Guineans and not Guinea-Bissauans.
Kenya – Kenya has lots of national parks and nature reserves. Lots of tourists come to Kenya to look at the animals. The highest mountain in Kenya and the second highest in Africa Is called Mount Kenya.
Lesotho – Lesotho has about 300 days of sunshine each year. There is a dinosaur called the Lesothosaurus which means lizard from Lesotho. Its footprints can be seen in the rocks.
Liberia – The Sapo National Park Is in Liberia and in this park there are some very rare pygmy hippopotami. The Liberian flag is a bit like the American flag it has 11 white and red stripes which are two reminders of the 11 people who signed the Liberian Declaration of Independence.
Libya – Libya is 95% desert and so it needs to import 75% of its food. It has 1100 miles of coastline which makes it the longest Mediterranean coastline. There are superb Roman and Greek ruins including at Leptis Magna, which was described as one of the most beautiful Roman cities in the world.
Madagascar – Madagascar is an island country. In fact, it is the fourth largest island in the world. Lemurs are only found here. There are lots of different species of lemur many of which are rare or endangered.
Malawi – More than a fifth of Malawi is taken up by Lake Malawi. There are more species of fish there than anywhere else. David Livingstone described it as a “Lake of Stars” because of all the fishing boats with lanterns on it. It has also been called the Calendar Lake as it is 365 miles long and 52 miles wide.
Mali – In the early 1300s, Emperor Mansa Musa went to Mecca on a pilgrimage. Mansa Musa was very rich. He took with him 60,000 men, 12,000 slaves and 80 camels. Each camel carried 30 to 50 pounds of gold. Every Friday along the way Mansa Musa built a mosque.
Mauritania – In Mauritania there is an amazing circular feature in the desert called the Richat Structure or the Eye of the Sahara. It has a diameter of 25 miles! Early astronauts used it as a landmark to look for when they were in space.
Mauritius – The Dodo an exotic bird which is now extinct used to live on Mauritius. About 90% of cultivated land is used for growing sugarcane. However, Mauritius is probably best known as a tourist destination.
Morocco – There is a university called al-Qarawiyin in Fez. It was built by a woman in 849 as a madrasa – which is an educational institution. it is considered by many people to be the oldest university in the world.
Mozambique – Mozambique is the only country in the world that has a weapon on its flag. It is also the only country in the world to have a one-word name that contains all the vowels. If you play Scrabble you might also like to know that it is worth 34 points which is more than any other country. Not that you would use it as you don’t normally include nouns when playing Scrabble.
Namibia – Namibia has desert elephants! These are not a particular type of elephant although one time it was thought that they might be a subspecies of the African elephant, but these are elephants that have chosen to live in the desert. Now, from large animals to a large plant. Namibia has an 800-year-old baobab tree which has been hollowed out and used as a church, a Post Office and a hideout. It is at the Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre & Campsite.
Niger – A strange looking dinosaur was discovered here, at least its head was strange. It was named Nigersaurus after the country. It had a head like a hammerhead shark with loads of teeth in it which was good for grazing on ferns. It had a long neck and was about 30 feet long together.
Nigeria – Nigeria has 170 million people which makes it the country with the largest population in Africa. The longest bridge in Africa is in Nigeria. It connects Lagos Island to the mainland. The Nigerian movie industry is called Nollywood. About 200 movies every week are produced.
Rwanda – Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills, as it is covered by grassy hills. You can visit gorillas in the wild in Rwanda. Kigali is incredibly clean as on the last Saturday of every month there is a community clear up programme.
Sao Tome and Principe – There is a beach called Praia Jalé, where you can stay in huts where there is no electricity. On some mornings giant sea turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs.
Senegal – The most western part of Africa is in Senegal. There are over a 1000 stone circles which have been created from about 300 BCE and 1600 CE – these are called the Stone Circles of Senegambia.
Seychelles – Esmerelda the largest tortoise in the world lives here and is about 170 years old. Seychelles used to be a hideout for pirates.
Sierra Leone – In Sierra Leone there are 20 different words for rice including one for rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan. The name Sierra Leone comes from the Portuguese for “Lion Mountain Range”.
Somalia – There are more camels in Somalia than in any other country. Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa. It is 1880 miles long.
South Africa – South Africa has hosted the football, rugby and cricket world cups and it the only country to have done so. There are many wild animals in South Africa, but did you know that there are African Penguins living there?
South Sudan – South Sudan is a very new country. The first baby boy born on the day it became independent was called, “Independent”.
Sudan – Sudan became 25% smaller when South Sudan separated from it. There are more pyramids in Sudan than in Egypt.
Tanzania – Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and Lake Tanganyika is the deepest lake in Africa. They are both in Tanzania. Six species of galagos or bushbabies live in Tanzania.
Togo – In Togo, it is considered rude to be seen smelling your food and a compliment to be told you are fat.
Tunisia – Carthage which was a very important city in Roman times and has many amazing ruins which you can visit is in Tunisia. Lots of scenes from the original Star Wars film like Luke’s home are in Tunisia and are visited by Star Wars fans.
Uganda – Ugandans love trees, they have a rule that if you cut one down, you must plant 3 more. One favourite food is a pan of fried grasshoppers. This is considered a great treat.
Zambia – Zambia’s longest river is the Zambezi, after which it is named. The Victoria Falls which is classed as the largest waterfall in the world is on the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe – In the 10th century this was a rich gold-trading country, where they build big stone houses. It is believed that Zimbabwe means either stone houses or honourable houses.
How many of these countries had you heard of?
Now can you fill in the missing vowels?
(Answers after the films and the craft activity.)
Cntrl Afrcn Rpblc
Rpblc f th Cng
Dmcrtc Rpblc f th Cng
Swtn (frmrly Swzlnd)
S Tm nd Prncp
A Song about the Countries of Africa
Here is a song from Arthur – if I had listened to this first I could have saved many hours of research!!
You might notice a couple of differences – put them in the comments below if you spot them.
This song tells you the names of the capitals of the African countries
A craft activity
For instructions and templates to make your own please go to:
Central African Republic
Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)
Sao Tome and Principe
Comments and Feedback
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