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!
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.