Thirsty Giants…

Desert elephants have unique adaptations to live in dry areas…

dessert Elephants
Thirsty Giants on the move. Photo by Blende12 from Pixabay.

Elephants are notoriously famous for their need for vast amounts of food and liter upon liter of water that they drink in a day. This can be up to 50 gallons (200 Liters). The desert elephant on the other hand often has to search for water and this may take days. They rely on their amazing sense of smell to find it, often in dry river beds where they will dig to access it and thereby help other animals to get a drink in a very dry area. A desert elephant, female or ‘cow’ and baby or ‘calf’ can go for about three days without water. The male or ‘bull’ can go for about 5 days without water.

thirsty elephants
Desert elephants inhabit very dry areas of Namibia. Photo by Publicdomainphotos from Pixabay.

Desert elephants can only be found in Mali and in Namibia, they look taller than there better off family that live in more hospitable regions but its more likely due to the smaller body weight which makes the legs look longer on the desert elephants. One may also notice some difference in foot size with the pads appearing bigger which is probably to enable the desert elephant to walk in loose sand. They are in the habit of walking up to 70 km at night in search of water. Usually this trip is prepared for by a few days of eating in one place where they seldom tear up or destroy the trees they eat from.

Another interesting aspect is that desert elephant herds are typically smaller than elephants in water abundant areas, most likely due to scarcity of food.

Namibia has in the region of 100 of these elephants left and the government has created watering points further from human settlements in an attempt to reduce the number of conflict encounters.

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