Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Learning About Elephants Life Cycle

By Andrew Keet

One of the largest animals that are on earth is the elephant. There are a lot of things that we can learn about these animals. Let us take a look at elephants life cycle and see what we can find out.

First thing that we can note that happens with elephants are that they tend to live in small, family type of groups that have the old females heading them. Depending on the abundance of food in the area that they are residing, some of the groups can join together. If this happens though the males will tend to stick to being around other males and the females will associate with other females. Although quite different in one respect, this is very similar when you think of the way that teenagers are. They too tend to hang out in their perspective groups the majority of the time.

However, during a certain time frame the males will enter a period that is called "musth" and will release a fluid that is thicker than the one that is released normally. Musth is generally the time that reproduction occurs, both in the wild or in tamed environments.

The amazing sense of smell that they have enables them to know exactly what state they are in when it comes to reproduction. They have a sense of smell that is vastly larger than what we have as humans. This is what enables them to sense the hormones through the air.

When it comes to the life cycle of an elephant, we learn that the female elephant is in a state of pregnancy for anywhere from 18 - 22 months. This is the longest of any mammal on earth. When they have the baby, it weighs over 200 lbs. The baby elephant will use their mouth to get milk from their mother, and continue to nurse for quite some time. The baby elephants can take a long time when it comes to weaning and often they are weaned off due to their mother being unable to tolerate the pokes from the tusks that they have developing.

As we go further along in elephants life cycle we find that they often are still bearing young at the age of 50. That is somewhat understandable when we look back at the length of time that the gestation period is for them. They also have a lengthy interval between their pregnancies that can range from 2 and two and a half years upwards to 4 years in length. That is not at all like us humans that can often get pregnant right after having a baby if not careful.

We also find that as an elephant ages they face a lot of illnesses us humans experience due to aging. Many common health issues such as arthritis and cardiovascular problems are found in elephant's. Even with illnesses of this sort afflicting them, they are still able to live for quite a lengthy period of time. Many can live up 70 years or longer, but often this does not happen due to poachers that play havoc with elephants life cycle.

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