A grazing desert elephant

This image was shot in Namibia where I was volunteering the EHRA; Elephant-Human Relations Aid. Some of the work included tracking the local group of African Desert Elephants.

African Desert Elephants were once considered a separate species and only two populations remain (the other is in Mali). However, they are now considered to be African Bush Elephants (the largest subspecies in Africa), albeit with some unique adaptations. There are thought to be around 150 elephants in this area of Namibia and the sub-species as a whole is listed as vulnerable.

Elephants are 'keystone' species, that is, one which has a significant impact on its' surroundings. Too few or too many elephants in an area impacts the numbers of certain trees in the area and this, in turn, impacts sources of food for other animals. If elephants remove all of the taller trees, the smaller trees become more abundant and the food sources for animals like giraffe might disappear.

Did you know?

The average lifespan for a male is thought to be 25 years and a female 40 years. Their maximum lifespan is thought to be 60 years.
Bulls can weigh 5,000kg and cows 2,800kg.
Elephants will typically eat 4-6% of their body weight every day, but they only digest around 40% of their food. Elephants can spend 16 hours a day feeding and desert elephants, because of the heat of the day, tend to feed at night.
They will drink 170 to 230 litres of water a day.