ELEPHANT | 360°

Elephants are true ecosystem engineers, they play a key role in the habitats where they live and help maintain the balance of biodiversity in the ecosystems they share with other species. And although elephants are native to Africa and Asia, they have an important cultural and symbolic meaning around the world.

WWF's conservation efforts focus on saving the world's largest land mammal on both continents. We work with people in the field caring for wild animals, as well as with governments and local communities to end poaching, reduce conflicts between humans and animals and improve monitoring and research.

There are more than 10 physical characteristics that differentiate Asian elephants from Africans. For example, Asian elephants are smaller than Africans and their ears are straight at the bottom, compared to the large fan-shaped ears of African species. Only some Asian male elephants have fangs, while African elephants, both male and female, have fangs. Also, it is important to note that there are two species of elephants in the African continent: the savanna elephant and the forest elephant, with a series of characteristics that make them different.

The trunk of an elephant has about 40,000 muscles. The human, for example, has more than 600 muscles throughout his body. Elephants use their tubes to suck and drink water, collect objects, make alert sounds and greet each other.

Elephants are right-handed or left-handed in terms of the use of their fangs. That is why the fang they use most often is usually the smallest.
Fangs of elephants serve many purposes. These long teeth can be used to protect the elephant's trunk, lift and move objects, collect food and remove tree bark. They can also use them to defend themselves. In times of drought, elephants even use their fangs to dig holes and find water underground.

Elephants have the longest gestation period than any other mammal: 22 months. Females give birth every four to five years. Elephant herds have complex social structures, are headed by matriarchs and are made up of groups of adult females and young, while male elephants usually live in isolation or in small groups of singles.

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