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Everything you need to know about elephants - and the best places to see them

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Saturday 12th August was World Elephant Day, an internationally recognised annual event dedicated to the preservation, protection and appreciation of some of the most beautiful mammals we have. 

Although the largest land mammal are some of the most popular amongst wildlife enthusiasts, travellers and interior decorators, here are some top fun facts that you might not know about these majestic creatures. 

Male elephants leave the herd between the ages of 12 and 15

These teenage lads prefer to lead a bachelor lifestyle and part ways from their families very early in life, whereas the females remain loyal to their herd in tight family groups of female relations. The eldest female leads the group, despite what The Jungle Book has lead us to believe. 

The elephant is one of only a few mammals that can't jump

Something else that we were deceived by the likes of Dumbo and company - elephant's cannot jump, and this is simply because they have no need to. Elephants keep safe in the presence of predators by remaining close to the protective herd and relying on their sheer size, rather than jumping like other animals would to avoid a predator. 

Elephants purr like cats as a means of communication

The elephant has quite the vocal range. As well as the iconic elephant trumpet that we all know and love, they can also produce a low rumbling that is so low that it is undetectable to the human ear. We can tell from a physical buzzing, and this is how the elephants have a chat. 

Elephants' eyes are small and their eyesight is poor

This might be the only thing small about them, but elephants tend to navigate with their trunks as they walk through forests as their eyesight is poor. 

The elephant's trunk has 150,000 muscle units and can hold over two gallons of water at a time

Despite popular misconception, elephants do not drink through their trunks, but use them as tools to drink with, by filling it with water and propelling it into their mouths like a hose. 

They consume as much as 300-495 pounds of food per day

No matter how much you can chow down during a Netflix binge, elephants can top that as the largest terrestrial animal. They can weigh up to 16,500 pounds as they have to consume a lot of fuel to power a body of that size. Wild elephants can eat plants of all sizes as well as fruit, grass and bamboo, and spend much of their time searching for their next meal. 

The oldest known elephant in the world lived for 86 years. The average lifespan of an elephant is from 50 to 70 years. 

Living almost all long as humans, elephants are truly fascinating creatures that we must work hard to protect from extinction. An Asian elephant name Lin Wang was the world's oldest elephant on record, who died in 2003 at Taipei Zoo in Taiwan. 

There are an estimated 15-20,000 captive elephants around the world, most of which live in harsh conditions. 

We must be aware and vigilant towards tourist attractions that subject elephants to cruel methods within taming rituals. These could include elements of torture, with the creatures being subjected to confinement, chaining, forced starvation and beatings from a bullhook, as young as within infancy. Many encourage tourists to opt for a more distant and relaxed approach to elephant experiences, and less intrusive alternatives to riding elephants. 

There are only two distinct species of elephant left in the world: the African elephant and the Asian elephant

There are so many ways that you can get up close and personal with these fascinating mammals, and there are still many destinations around the world in which you can find them, despite their endangered status. 

Here are some of the best places to see the beautiful creatures in the wild, just as they should be. 

Borneo

Borneo is home to pygmy elephants, and it is debated as to whether these creatures are native to Borneo or descendents of those given to the Sultan of Sulu in the 18th century. They travel in herds of up to 70, so they shouldn't be too hard to spot along Sabah's longest river, the Kinabatangan, which you can access by foot or on a river cruise. 

Deforestation has taken its toll on this area, so you can even spot other wildlife such as orang-utans, proboscis monkeys and monitor lizards amongst the foliage. 

You can also find elephants within the Danum Valley or the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Borneo. 

Botswana

This is home to one of Africa's greatest wildlife viewing spots, with more than 100,000 elephants- more than anywhere else in the world. This is due to the preservation of ancient migration routes, creating a space for wildlife to roam free and in sight of wildlife enthusiasts. 

Chobe National Park is the most famous spot to find elephants, with a river cruise being the best way to see them. 

This area is a wildlife haven, where sightings of buffalo, zebra, giraffe, lion, leopard and wild dogs are common.

India

Up to 350 elephants can be found within the far north of the Corbett National Park in India. 

You can also find the majestic creatures at the Periyar Wildlife reserve in Southern India, and is one of the most popular of its kind.

Indonesia

You can find the Sumatran elephant, a critically endangered subspecies, in the Tesso Nilo and Way Kambas National Parks in Indonesia. 

Keep in mind that there is no native elephant population here, so the elephant camps in Bali exist purely for tourism.

Kenya

Although half of its elephants were lost in the 1970s, Kenya's elephant population is increasing, and here you can find some of the most beautiful landscape backgrounds home to wild elephants in the world. If you're going to search for some elephants, you might as well do it at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. 

Thailand

Visiting the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand is the perfect opportunity to get up close to elephants in a natural environment, designed to provide elephant-friendly tourism. The park rescues elephants from camps and circuses where they have been subjected to mistreatment and is home to more than 35 elephants. You can walk with them, watch them and even bathe. 

Or if you want an even more natural approach, spend a night in a tree house that reserves offer and catch a glimpse of one of the 2,000-3,000 elephants that roam in the jungle. 

Zimbabwe

If you've ever fancy volunteering and working on projects to support wild elephants and other endangered animals such as rhinos, there are many around Victoria Falls and within central Zimbabwe, which conduct behavioural observation and provide conservation education with local communities and schools. 

Zimbabwe has a population of up to 60,000 elephants, around 44,000 of which can be found in the Hwange National Park. During the dry season (July to October) this is the perfect spot to see hundreds of elephants and lots of other wildlife. 

Nepal

Chitwan and Bardiya National Park are some of the best places to find elephants in Nepal, where you can jump aboard an elephant safari run by conservationists aiming to protect and nuture their growing populations. 

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is proud to be the home of the largest subspecies of the Asian elephant, and names it as the national animal of Sri Lanka. You can find them in national parks such as Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpattu and Minneriya, and within rescue initiatives such as The Elephant Transit Home, which rescues injured or orphaned infants and rehabilitates them. 




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