Today, the 22nd of September is Elephant Appreciation Day! And because I really love elephants and couldn’t stop after just one water color, I had to paint a second one. 🙂
Most of us only get to see elephants in zoos and/or documentaries, and some of us, like me, might dream to see them one day in the wilds of Africa.
But if we want to, we better hurry as African elephants are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) while the Asian elephant is classed as endangered.
One of the biggest threats to elephant populations still is the ivory trade, as the animals are poached for their ivory tusks. Other threats to wild elephants also include habitat destruction and conflicts with local people. In Asia they´re used as working animals. And in the past they were even used for war, think of Hannibal for instance, who crossed the alps with them in order to attack Rome.
The trunk of an elephant contains up to 40,000 muscles, the human face on contrast has only 26. Elephant trunks have multiple functions, including breathing, olfaction, touching, grasping, and sound production.
Did you know that the animal’s sense of smell may be four times as sensitive as that of a bloodhound? And the trunk can be used for as delicate a task as wiping an eye or checking an orifice, and it is also capable of cracking a peanut shell without breaking the seed.
Elephants can communicate with each other over long distances via infrasonic sounds and thus can cover distances up to 10 km (6 mi) – we would require a mobile phone for that!
And they also exhibit mirror self-recognition, an indication of self-awareness and cognition that has also been demonstrated in some apes and dolphins.
Many scientific debates center on the extent to which elephants feel emotions – which in my mind is utter nonsense as it is clear as day to me that they do have emotions just like any living being on this planet. Have you ever seen a female elephant grieving over the lost of her baby? How could that not be an emotion?