Elephant Enigmas in Rhyme – Around the World in 50 Weeks

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from picgifs.com

You may or may not have noticed a certain obsession with elephants of late. I make no apologies for my idolization of these magnificent  mammals. Much is maintained about these huge beasts, but how to divide myth from fact? These rhyming couplets should go a long way to clarify your elephant knowledge. Children (and adults) feel free to tell me which statements and questions are misleading!


Do elephants paint their nails pink and green

to hide among orchids without being seen?


Are elephants scared of humans and bees?

Do they keep their distance from ants in trees?


Do elephants talk by stomping the ground

vibrating the earth and creating a sound?


Or do they sling hammocks in mango trees,

and snooze in the shade and savannah breeze?


One hundred thousand muscles, or bunk?

Is it true, they exist in an elephants’ trunk?


Did you know that an elephant’s sense of smell

Is the best of all animals? But, how can you tell?


Is an elephant tusk a blessing or curse?

Depends, for a poacher? or something worse?


They’re huge herbivores, so what do they eat?

Grass and seeds or something more sweet?


Are elephants loners or a sociable bunch,

who like to play games and hang for lunch?


If you want to make an elephant happy,

just stroke its tongue, and see it turn sappy!

Family of African Elephants (free desktop image)

Q: Are elephants endangered?
A: There are currently about 600 000 African elephants and approximately 40 000 Asian elephants in the world today. Of these, about 20% are bred in zoos (and tragically still in circuses, where conditions are rarely optimal). In 1979, there were 1.3 million African elephants. Within one decade, this number had decreased by 50% due to poaching. At this time, about 8 elephants were slaughtered every hour for their valuable tusks. Since 1989, however, ivory poaching has been banned almost everywhere in the world. This has allowed the numbers to stabilise. The CITES (Convention of International Trade In Endangered Species) regard both species as threatened, but not endangered. However, illegal poaching continues to threaten the numbers of animals the world over.

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20 Responses to Elephant Enigmas in Rhyme – Around the World in 50 Weeks

  1. This is a great post! Really? Rub an elephant’s tongue? I really like elephants too. They are amazing when you see them in person. It is good that you tell about poaching and that it is still a problem 🙁

    • Joanna says:

      Erik, it is so sad there many elephants are killed through illegal poaching. Yep, rubbing an elephant’s tongue is like scratching a cat’s ears!

      • Hi, like Erik, I wondered about those last two lines – and while I do love looking at these majestic beings, I also couldn’t help but be squeamish and scared at the thought of putting my hand in an elephant’s tongue. I’d probably take a raincheck on that one. I love the rhymes too! 🙂 I have recently reviewed a book from India about elephants as written by Anushka Ravishankar (I posted it December of last year) – I don’t know if you had a chance to see that yet, but yes, it’s all about elephants. 🙂

  2. Wonderful rhymes Joanna. I really like Elephants they show up in lots of my poems and stories. I hope there is a future for them and that poaching will become xtinct instead of elephants. Great post!

  3. I really enjoyed your rhymes Joanna. You do it with such ease. Great combination of facts with some fun myths for kids. Liked painting toenails to blend in. On the serious side, elephants are such elegant creatures and we have to believe with all that scientists are doing and laws being passed will keep them from becoming extinct.

  4. Joanna says:

    Thank you, Pat. It is mainly a question of a lack of resources to enforce the laws. But, things are improving!

  5. You’ve done it again. Completely enthralled me with your poetry, and sneaked in a fact or two that will stay with me. You truly have a gift. Off to publicize your post on my facebook!

  6. Love the rhyme and the focus on these magnificent animals. One thing I have on my “bucket list” is to see an elephant in the wild. I hope I get a chance to rub one’s tongue someday! 🙂

  7. Joanna says:

    Julie, one of the most jaw dropping experiences of living in Africa is seeing such animals in the wild…. I confess I learnt a few facts myself, researching these guys. That’s half the fun of it!

  8. This is amazing. Love the rhymes. You could totally make this into a picture book. The pictures would be absolutely fabulous too! Elephants really are magnificent creatures. Love this!

  9. Joanna says:

    Leigh, thank you.I kept wishing I was an illustrator when I was writing this. These couplets would indeed be such fun to illustrate!

  10. Enjoyed the rhymes. I like to think they do paint their toenails and hang out in hammocks. Thanks for sharing the facts. I thought of you recently as my husband and I watched a piece about rhinos. It was on a US television show. The stories of poachers and what preserve owners are doing was a mix of interesting and sad.

    • Joanna says:

      Absolutely, Stacey, I was waiting for someone to come up with the right answers! Poaching is a tricky issue. Some are out there purely for greed, for others it is a question of survival.

  11. Joanna, I loved Leigh’s comment, sooo could turn your poem into a picture book.
    I have many times sat on top of an elephant both here and in Asia and Cambodia and they have always been such gentle giants to me, graceful and strong. Have fed them but never rubbed their tongue. I hope the laws improve so they never are extinct

  12. Joanna says:

    Diane, I have never been near a tame elephant, that must be fun to ride one! The real challenge is the lack of resources to pay for the manpower to enforce the laws. 🙁

  13. What a wonderful post! I love your poem! How funny that elephants like to have their tongues rubbed. We had a horse in the barn once who liked that – he would stick his tongue out and want you to grab it 🙂 I love elephants – they seem so smart and social and caring toward each other. I know we have a long way to go, but I’m glad there’s at least an attempt to crack down on poaching. I can’t imagine killing such magnificent animals (well, ANY animals – I’m an animal lover) for their tusks. So wrong.

  14. Joanna says:

    Aha, so this tongue thing is more common than we think. I can understand people killing animals to eat in order to survive, but killing them for fur, tusks, glands etc grieves me deeply…

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