Natural behaviors and habitat of elephants

Natural behaviors and habitat of elephants

Have you ever wondered what many (Asian) elephants would do and would choose to do if they were not in captivity? They would choose to become happy elephants in their natural habitat, which are immense grasslands and rain forests.

Elephants in the wild spend most of their day wandering and looking for food. Elephants spend from 12 to 18 hours per day eating. The rest of the time are used to play, socialize, enjoy a mud bath and sleep. Elephants sleep very little, just a round two to four hours per day in the early morning. When they sleep, they lie down on the ground. During the hottest time of the day, they also doze off a little by standing still in the shade and closing their eyes.

You may not know that elephants have very good bush skills and they also have a good memory. They remember essential information to their survival such as where to get water and ample food and how to get there. The matriarch, usually the biggest and oldest female elephant of the herd, knows the information very well and she leads the herd to cross long distances to arrive at the right place. Elephants feed on a wide variety of vegetation such as grasses, herbs, shrubs, vines, broadleaved trees, bamboo shoots, forest crocus, etc. Elephants are definitely skillful eaters. They choose to eat roots, barks or leaves based on the particular type. They also know to use trunk to shake off the dirt and gravels from the shrubs before putting food to their mouth.

Elephants are quite picky with regards to their food and water. The grass must be fresh. If the grass is left over the day and it looks withered. Elephants would certainly not put their trunk on them and go look for something else. The water is no exception. It must be at an adequate temperature, neither too hot nor too cold. Additionnally, if they have pooped in a place, they will not eat the grass in that area any more.

If you visit elephants near some puddles, you may see them playing in the dirt or skillfully using their feet and their trunk to mix mud and water. Wait for it, they are preparing to have some fun! It’s a mud bath party! Elephants have sensitive skin that can get sunburned and get biten by insects. Therefore, they often use their trunks to hold water and mud mixture to spray all over their bodies as a layer of protection. The cool mud also helps to regulate the body temperature and get rid of parasites on their skin.

Elephants are not territorial creatures. They are not aggressive and defensive when other species enter the place they often go back and forth. In fact, elephants do have their home range and trails. These are trampled so many times that they are barren, around one or two meter wide and they can last for even ten kilometers. When elephants follow the track of generations to migrate from one place to another in search of better living conditions, they may trespass on people’s agricultural land, which used to be wild. As a result, human-elephant conflicts happen. Currently, due to the increasing human population and the severe deforestation, which lead to elephants’ decreasing food source and habitat loss, elephant population in Vietnam are dwindling.

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