Dwarf elephant: photo, dimensions
Did you know that there is a dwarfish elephant? Photos of pygmy elephants simply flooded the Internet. Fans of these cute animals already fantasize that such a baby can be exactly kept as a pet in the apartment. Let's see if a dwarf elephant can live at home, what it eats, how it behaves in the wild.
The smallest elephants on our planet live in Borneo. It is the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. On its territory there are borders of three countries - Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Almost the entire territory of Borneo is covered with dense equatorial forests, there are areas on which the human foot has not stepped. Perhaps on the island and now there are species of animals and plants, of which modern biologists know nothing.
Dwarf elephants Borneo live only on a small part of the island, owned by Malaysia, in the state of Sabah. Sometimes you can meet these amazing animals on the territory of Indonesia. The habitat of elephants-pygmies is connected with their food preferences.
Dwarf elephants Borneo eat a variety of herbs: herbs, juicy palm leaves, wild bananas, bark, nuts, various fruits, seeds. Also these animals need mineral substances, which ensure their harmonious development. Elephants receive the necessary minerals from solonets and other limestone deposits, which can be found on the banks of rivers.
What size are they?
The smallest elephants in the world are a subspecies of Asian. A pygmy elephant, whose photo you can see in this article, lives on the north-eastern part of the island. What are the characteristics of the appearance of these animals?
Many people are interested in the growth of a dwarf elephant. Its dimensions are not so miniature, as it appears from the name of the subspecies. The growth of an adult pygmy elephant is 2-2.5 meters. The weight can reach 2-3 tons.
For comparison, we will cite the sizes of the nearest relatives, Asian elephants, which reach 3.5 meters in height, and weigh up to 4.5 tons.
The largest elephant in history, belonging to the African species, weighed more than 12 tons, and its growth reached almost four meters. As can be seen from the comparison, the Borneo elephant is indeed considered dwarfed in comparison to its brethren, but still a large animal.
Features of appearance
In addition to the modest size, Pygmy elephants are distinguished by some characteristic features of appearance. Their ears are larger than those of Asian elephants, the spine is more curved. Tusks short and straight. But the tails are long, almost touching the ground. There is another difference, thanks to which the dwarf elephant is so popular. Photos perfectly show a pretty cartoonish expression of face. Due to this peculiarity of a dwarfish elephant, it is simply impossible to confuse an animal with another subspecies.
However, even despite the cute appearance, Elephants Borneo are large wild animals. There are known cases of their attacks on people, including fatalities.
Genetic theory of origin
How did this rare elephant appear and how did he get to Borneo Island? Scientists can not give an exact answer to this question. There are two theories explaining where the dwarf elephant Borneo originated.
The first hypothesis is based on laboratory studies of the DNA of these animals. The analysis of the genome tells us that elephants live in isolation, and for more than 300 thousand years they have not met with their relatives, which means they are an independent subspecies.
The distant ancestors of dwarf elephants came to Borneo during the World cold snap, about 18 thousand years ago. Presumably, they passed through the land isthmus, which was later destroyed. Thus, all the elephants originated from one group, and changes in appearance and slight differences from other Asian congeners are a result of prolonged isolation.
This hypothesis is very plausible, but it can not explain one interesting fact: there were no archaeological evidence of living elephants in Borneo for such a long period. The most ancient remains are dated to the 18th century.
Historical theory of origin
Where, and most importantly, when Borneo appeared dwarf elephant? This explains the second hypothesis, according to which the ancestors of island elephants were donated to the local sultan Sulu by the ruler of Java. Thus, the inhabitants of Borneo are descendants of Javanese elephants, which are considered extinct. It remains a mystery how several animals managed to lay the beginning of an extensive population in three hundred years.
The threat of existence
To date, the dwarf elephant is threatened with extinction. Many efforts are being made to save these rare animals. For a long time, small groups of elephants hid in dense forests, almost without contact with humans.
However, as a result of constant deforestation and expansion of agricultural land, wild elephants increasingly face people, leading to casualties on both sides. Their role in the disappearance of a rare species was played by poachers who hunted for tusks. Also, young animals are constantly attacked by predators. For today the population totals about 1500 individuals, which means that the life of each animal is of great importance.
Dwarf elephants Borneo are social animals. They live in groups with complex intra-family ties. The family herd consists of the oldest and most experienced female, her sisters, daughters, that is, the relatives of the head of the herd. In rare cases, other females that are not blood relatives can join them. Such a group can have from 3 to 25 individuals.
A group of females sometimes unites with a group of males and lives as a single clan. All elephants help each other in the upbringing of the young. More experienced mothers show young people how to care for their offspring. Survival is greatly increased when several females look after them.
Relationships in the group
As you know, elephants establish strong social and emotional ties with members of their flock. Family values for them are very important. They can carry on friendship and good relationships through life, mourn the loss of loved ones and cubs. Elephants can return to the place of death of a member of the herd in order to mourn.
The flock that goes to the watering place looks touching. Little elephants grab at the tail of the mother with a trunk to keep up, and other elephants surround the babies to protect themselves from possible danger.
Despite the warm relations and strong ties between members, the group can split up. The reason for this is usually a lack of food, water or conflict within the herd associated with the death of the leader. Herds living in the same territory do not conflict, they greet each other and can interact. If the conditions are favorable, water and food are plenty, then the groups can unite.
Sexually mature males are separated from the mother's group and lead a solitary nomadic life. As they mature (puberty occurs in 12-15 years), males become more independent, begin to leave the herd and wander alone. Over time, the male is completely excommunicated from his herd. He can continue the life of a single person or join a group of other males.
The male clan also has a strict hierarchy. The group is managed by the most mature and experienced males. Members of the herd stay together, but as soon as one of them has a female who has taken courtship, he leaves his male group for the duration of the mating season.
Own dwarf home elephant - a dream of many animal lovers. However, if you carefully read the article, you have realized that even the smallest elephants in the world are huge animals weighing several tons.
What conditions would have to be created if you had a dwarfish elephant? A pet is massive, that's why it eats a lot. Every day a happy owner of such a pet needs to get at least 150 kilograms of various green feed.
In an environment, elephants are in constant motion. Accordingly, they need an aviary just huge. Also, the animal needs to swim somewhere, take mud baths, rub against the trees, lie on the sand, walk on the grass. In the cold season, it must be indoors.
Dwarf elephants are amazing and very rare animals, which can be found only in a small area of the island of Borneo. Their origin is not known for certain, but they are a separate subspecies and thoroughly researched by scientists.