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Habitat And Food

Because of their high intelligence level, elephants can adapt to and modify habitat, while their wide range of food choices permits habitation of a diverse range of ecosystems, including forest, woodland, savanna, grassy plains, swampy areas, and sparsely vegetated desert. Unfortunately, because of massive poaching for ivory and the destruction of much of the elephant's natural habitat, most African elephants are now restricted to the protection of national parks. Not so long ago, however, they freely followed age-old seasonal migration routes from one habitat to another.

Elephants need massive quantities of food, perhaps 300–350 lb (136–159 kg) a day, although proportional to their body-weight elephants eat less than mice. The diet of elephants includes roots, bark, grass, leaves, berries, seedpods, and other fruits. Elephants will uproot trees to obtain tasty treats from the top, or delicately pluck a single berry from a branch. Elephants never roam far from water, and will travel great distances in search of it. They may drink up to 50 gal (189 l) of water a day, and after drinking their fill, will splash themselves with water and mud, wash their young, and sometimes just frolic, tossing and squirting water about while their young splash, play, and roll in the mud. Surprisingly, populations of these water-loving creatures may inhabit desert areas, using their tusks and trunk to dig for water under dry river beds. The knowledge of where to find water is handed down from one generation to another.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Electrophoresis (cataphoresis) to EphemeralElephant - Evolution, Body, Limbs, Head, Mouth And Trunk, Teeth, Ears, Group Structure - Eyes, Social behavior, Death