|The African elephant
The immense savannas of east Africa mark the area where
the human race is believed to have emerged. The Olduvai Gorge near the Serengeti in Tanzania has
yielded the oldest known remains of modern humans. Today, it is the expanding and encroaching human
population that is putting increasing pressure on wildlife.
Elephants still roam east Africa, but in far lower
numbers than a century ago. Loss of habitat to agriculture, and a greed for ivory from their tusks,
have each taken a heavy toll on these intelligent beasts.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, ivory poachers decimated
elephants in the Serengeti and other parts of east Africa. This was a dark time for these
magnificent animals. After the world-wide ban on the ivory trade in 1989, elephants began returning
to some areas and their numbers are now increasing.
|African elephants are sociable
animals. Herds are usually made up of one or more family groups, although bulls can be
more solitary. Elephant herds are headed by a matriarch and have a complex social structure
centered on the females and calves.