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Elephant



Elephants are large land mammals in two genera of the family Elephantidae, Elephas and Loxodonta. Three species of elephant are living today, the African Bush Elephant, the African Forest Elephant and the Asian Elephant also known as the Indian Elephant. All other species and genera of Elephantidae are extinct, some since the last ice age: dwarf forms of mammoths may have survived as late as 2,000 BC. Elephants and other Elephantidae were once classified with other thick-skinned animals in a now invalid order, Pachydermata. The African Elephant is the largest land mammal on earth, weighing up to 8 tons.

The elephant has appeared in cultures across the world. They are a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and are famed for their memory and intelligence, where they are thought to be on par with cetaceans and hominids. Aristotle once said the elephant was the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind. The word "elephant" has its origins in the Greek ἐλέφας, meaning ivory"or elephant.

Healthy adult elephants have no natural predators, although lions may take calves or weak individuals. They are increasingly threatened by human intrusion and poaching. While the elephant is a protected species worldwide, with restrictions in place on capture, domestic use, and trade in products such as ivory, there has been an increase in poaching in recent years, perhaps attributable to the reopening of "one time" ivory stock sales. Certain African nations report a decrease of their elephant populations by as much as two-thirds, and populations in even some protected areas are in danger of being eliminated.

Do not purchase ivory. Poaching to meet ivory demand is one of the greatest threat to elephant today.