Myth Vs Truth
So you are almost set and ready to travel to the other end of the world and embark on the adventure of a lifetime, discovering and learning from the amazing wildlife.
Do you want to find out more about some of the animals you’ll get to see and spend time with while travelling abroad?
Here our Volunteer Encounter experts will help you discover some incredible details about the biggest land animals that exist and you’ll be able to check if what you’ve heard about them before is true or not!
#1 Elephants can get sunburnt!
This is absolutely true! That’s why you would often see them using mud as a sunscreen in order to protect their skin from ultraviolet light. This mud also protects them from insect bites and moisture loss.
#2 Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals.
True! Their gestation period is approximately 22 months long. Although they usually carry one baby at a time, between 1 or 2 % of them give birth to twins. They also give birth only once every 3 to 4 years.
#3 Elephants are scared of mice.
False. However, and despite their size, they can be turned off by ants and bees. Consequently, farmers in some African countries protect their fields from elephants by lining the borders with beehives.
They also avoid eating a type of acacia tree that is home to ants, since they can get inside their trunk, which is full of sensitive nerve endings.
#4 Elephants like peanuts
False. They don’t eat them in the wild and zoos don’t feed them to their captive elephants. However, they eat a great variety of plants and spend around 16 hours a day eating.
#5 Elephants can be left or right tusked
True. Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed.
#6 Elephants get drunk from the marula tree
False. Stories of African elephants getting drunk from the fermented fruit of the marula tree are not true.
They don’t eat the fruit off the ground where it ferments, and the fresh fruit doesn’t stay in their digestive tract long enough to ferment.
Besides that, even if an elephant were to eat the fermented fruit, it would take 1,400 pieces to get one drunk.
#7 Elephants walk around in their tiptoes
True. An elephant’s foot is designed in such a way that they actually walk on the tips of their toes. An X-ray of an elephant’s foot will reveal that its bones are actually standing on tip-toe. Their feet are flat because of a large pad of gristle under each heel which acts as a shock absorber and helps them walk quietly.
#8 Elephants are extremely smart
True. Elephants have a highly developed brain and the largest of all the land mammals. The brain is 3 or 4 times larger than that of humans although smaller as a proportion of body weight.
Their brains have more complex folds than all animals except whales, which is thought to be a major factor in their intellect.
They commonly show grief, humour, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool-use, playfulness, and excellent learning abilities.
#9 Elephants have great sight
False. They can only see well up to 20 meters but their smell and hearing senses are the best ones. They also use infrasonic sounds to communicate up to 10 km away.
#10 Elephants trunks are only used for drinking water
False. Although elephants can store up to 10 litres of water in their trunks at a time, it is used not only for water but for breathing, smelling, touching, grasping, producing sound and picking up very tiny things including a single grain of rice!
Were you surprised by these facts? Are you interested in learning more about these wonderful animals, their social behaviour and biology, while getting quite close to them and helping make a difference in their future in Zimbabwe?
Check out our Wildlife Research and Conservation Project in Victoria Falls!