Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

How do baby Elephants survive?

on May 17, 2013

I hope you’re enjoying the Baby Animals articles so far.

Previously we’ve discussed the survival strategies of cheetah cubs, zebra foals, wildebeest and hippopotamus calves.

Today I would like to focus on a species that have a very peculiar social organisation: a matriarchal society. In these type of societies the females, usually the mothers and/or elderly, lead the group and are ranked above the males.


African Elephant Calves

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest extant terrestrial animal in the world. They live up to 60-70 years old and they are known to form lifelong bonds with other individuals. These bonds start right from birth as the newborn is protected against danger by the family.

Calves are born with very poor eyesight and rely on the other senses and the group’s protection. That said, one of the newborns’ survival strategies is, in fact, relying on the guidance and protection of their huge relatives.

Notice how on the following picture the elephant calf is kept in the group, surrounded by big adult females, while travelling. This ensures that, if any predator is to attack, it will encounter a wall of very angry, tusk bearing, 3.5 ton raging females ready to fight. That is sure to put off most predators’ plans.

African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) herd protecting baby.

African Elephant herd protecting young calf.
Photo Credits

Not only will elephant groups protect the young from attacks, they sometimes also have to protect them from their own clumsiness.

As newborns, elephant calves don’t really know what to do with their trunk. In fact, it takes them up to a year to finally master the skill to use their interesting member accordingly. For months they swing it around, suckle it like human infants do to their thumbs and even step on it many times. When they are about 6-8 months old they are able to use it to aid in eating, drinking and even use it as a snorkel when in water.

However, due to their clumsiness with their trunks and in general, sometimes they get themselves in bad situations like the one presented on the following video in which the elephant calf ended up in what it seems to be a dam and unable to leave on its own. Watch how the group does their best to help the little one.


Hope you liked learning about the amazing world of baby elephants.
Do you want to find out how baby spotted hyenas and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?


Até à próxima!

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