The Elephant and Its Environment
The Elephant, the 'Architect of the Savannah'
"The most familiar habitat for African elephants is the savannah, or"bush,"a vast expanse of rolling grassland, dotted with flat-topped acacia trees and divided by winding strips of riverine forest. During the rainy seasons, when the grass is green and growing, elephants can be found all across the savannah. They are seldom found very far from water. After the elephants have quenched their thirst, there is then time to bathe and relax. Their dusty, quilted skins are dunked and showered, and liberally plastered with mud. Calves wriggle, wrestle and roll in the mud...emerging to play with their playmates.
The leadership of a family herd of elephants always rests with a venerable old female, known as the matriarch. The herd she leads normally consists of her daughters and grand-daughters, with perhaps one or two sisters and their offspring as well... .When danger threatens, all the family members turn to the matriarch for guidance. Her behavior, based on decades of experience, will tell them whether to fight or flee. She may lead them to form a defensive circle, with the calves safely inside and the adults facing outwards, ears spread and heads head high to increase their apparent size and intimidate the foe."