Elephants are the largest land animals and have a gestation period of 22 months making it the longest of any land animal. They typically live for 50 to 70 years old and the largest ever recorded had a shoulder height of 4.2 metres (14 ft).
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. Aristotle once said the elephant was "the beast which passeth all others in wit and mind".
Healthy adult elephants have no natural predators but are increasingly threatened by human intrusion and poaching. Once numbering in the millions, the African elephant population has dwindled to between 470,000 and 690,000 individuals. While the elephant is a protected species worldwide, certain African nations report a decrease of their elephant populations by as much as two-thirds, and populations in certain protected areas are in danger of being eliminated.
Elephants have well innervated trunks, and an exceptional sense of hearing and smell. The hearing receptors reside not only in ears, but also in trunks that are sensitive to vibrations, and most significantly feet, which have special receptors for low frequency sound and are exceptionally well innervated. Elephants communicate by sound over large distances of several kilometers partly through the ground, which is important for their social lives. Elephants are observed listening by putting trunks on the ground and carefully positioning their feet.
This photograph was taken on safari in South Africa and shows the beauty and majesty of this great creature in its natural habitat. An antique effect has been added with a sepia effect and some texture work.
Photography by Pauline Wickens.