Elephants live in herds of tens, twenties or even fifties. An elephant herd consists of a bull and several old females with their daughters, grand-daughters and young sons.
During the dry season, they migrate to forest or highland areas where they can find plenty of water. During the rainy seasons they move to grassy plains. Each herd is usually led by one cow elephant.
Adult elephant bulls often stay and wander alone, but they visit the herd frequently for mating. If two bulls meet in defeated and driven out of the herd. Certain male elephants live alone and they attack bulls. They usually suffer from some painful wound, a toothache or something that makes them angry very easily. So they attack anybody who comes their way.
A baby elephant weighs 80 kilograms at birth and is born after gesttation period of 22 months, longer than any other animal. It sucks its mother's milk for three or four years, using its mounth, not its trunk.
Despite their enormous size , elephants are good swimmers. They like cooling off in swamps, and they are often seen swimming across wide rivers.
Elephants have poor eyesight. Their sense of heearing is not very good either, in spite of their huge ears. But they have a very sharp sense of smell, to warn them of danger.
The trunk is one of the most important parts of an elephant's body. It is formed by the nose and the upper lip. The trunk is udes for feeding and as an organ of smell and of touch. It is used for lifting heavy objects and when elephants are in love, they touch each other with their trunks.
Elephants eat a huge amount of green vegetation. A big bull elephant may eat upto to 225kg of food a day. Elephants must eat a lot of food and drink plenty of water to nourish their huge bodies.
Elephants are hunted by man. Although this is now not allowed by law in many countries, they are killed in secret. This activity is called poaching. The poachers kill them for their tusks which are highly valued. Tusks are very long teeth which continue to grow throughout an elephant's life. The biggest tusks are about 4 metres long and may weigh up to about 140kg.
Elephants can live for about seventy years and very intelligent. In some parts of the world, such as India and Zaire, elephants have been trained to work in forestry projects. Because of their enormous strength, they are used to lift and pull heavy logs. But unless carefully protected, elephants may be completely wiped out by the activities of poachers who kill them for ivory.
Answer these questions
1. What is the size of a fully grown elephant?
2. How big are eleohants herds?
3. What is likely to happen if two bull elephants meet in the herd?
4. How do rogue bull elephnts behave? Why do they behave as they do?
5. What is the weight of a newly born elephant? For how long does it drink its mothers's milk?
6. Each herd of elephants is usually led by one _____ elephant.
7. Elephants have a very sharp sense _____.
8. One of the most important parts of an elephant's body that helps it to survive is the _____.
9. Elephants are hunted by poachers for their _____.
10. A big bull elephant may eat up to _____ kg of food per day.
How zebras got their stripes
A long time ago, they were no zebras. But there were donkeys which were wild. The donkeys were hunted by humans. So many donkeys were killed in this way and they became worried."At this rate, we shall be wiped off the face of the earth," one donkey said. :We should do something and do it pretty soon." another one added. The donkeys discussed their problems for along time, but no solution seemed to be in sight. So they decided to go and see the Hare and seek his advice.
Hare was the most respected animal in the world in those days. His wisdom was sought and respected by all the animals. He always found a solution to even the most difficult problems. When the donkeys arrived at the Hare's house, they did not have to knock. Hare was basking, iying on his back in the sun outside his house, nibbling at something held in his forearms. As soon as he saw the donkeys, he was up on his feet, ready to receive them.
When they were all gathered, one of the donkeys cleared her throat and began: "We bring you peace. We are hunted night and day by human begins. The number of donkeys killed everyday are too many for anyone to count. We have come to you for advice on how this bloodshed can be ended."
Hare nodded as he listened attentively. " Well,"he replied," I do not understand why human begins hunt you. They do not eat your flesh, do they?"
"No they don't," the donkeys replied in chorus.
"For some strange reason best known to them," one donkey added," They do not want to see see our species on this planet!"
Hare was lost in deep thought. Then he turned to his visitors and said, "Listen, i have an idea, perhaps a solutiob to your problem. It's quite simple. I am going to give you a beautiful coat of paint. After that, human will begins will not recognize you at all, and will stop hunting you." At first the donkeys thought this was no solution to their problem. They thought that it was a foolish idea because a donkey would not be mistaken for anything else. They rejected Hare's idea and went away.
One of the donkeys decided that she would rather have the beautiful coating of paint that Hare had suggested. "Even if it does not protect me from hunters, i will still go for it because i would appear more beautiful than i am at the moment. At any rate, i have nothing to lose except my dull grey colour,"she told the others, as she returned to Hare's house.
After the donkey apologised, Hare took his pail of paint and his brush and began his work. He painted beautiful black stripes covering entire body. The donkey who was painted returned to where the others were, looking at herself in admiration after every few steps. The others were simply dumbfounded. She looked strikingly beautiful. They all admired her. In no time, they were all at Hare's house apologizing to him and asking him to paint them too. " I will paint all of you. Just line up and behave yourselves," Hare said.
Hare painted each donkey in turn, moving his brush briskly up and down and left and right, with great acurrancy and skill. When he was about halfway through his job, one silly donkey kicked the pail of paint, pouring its contents! Half the donkeys had to go without being painted. Those who were painted are today's zebras. The other remained donkeys.
Answer the following questions
1. Why were the donkeys worried about their safety?
2. Why was Hare the most respected being in the animal world?
3. When the donkeys arrived at Hare's house, what was it that they did not do?
4. Explain why Hare did not understand why man hunts donkeys?
5. What was Hare doing outside his house when the donkeys arrived?
6. The donkeys rejected Hare's idea of painting them because they thought that _____.
7. One of the donkeys decided to go back to be painted because _____.
8. When Hare told the donkeys that he would give them a baeutiful coat of paint, he meant that he would _____.