So, you are set to travel to the other end of the world to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, but before you do, do you want to find out more about some of the animals you'll get to see while volunteering abroad?
Our World Volunteering experts are here to help you learn what’s fact and what’s fiction about the largest land animal in the world, the elephant!
1. Elephants can get sunburnt!
This is absolutely true!
You can often see elephants covering themselves in mud, which is a natural form of sunscreen! As well as protection from ultraviolet light, this mud also protects them from insect bites and moisture loss.
2. Elephants can be left or right tusked
Elephants prefer one tusk over the other, just as people are either left or right-handed. Their preferential tusk is often shorter as it is used more often as a tool.
3. Elephants have the longest gestation period of all mammals.
An elephant’s gestation period is approximately 22 months long, giving birth to a calf only once every 3 to 4 years. Although elephants usually carry only one baby at a time, between 1 or 2% of elephants give birth to twins!
4. Elephants like peanuts
Elephants do not eat peanuts in the wild and zoos around the world do not feed them to their captive elephants. However, elephants do like a variety of other foods, and can spend up to 16 hours a day eating!
5. Elephants are scared of mice.
There is no proof that elephants are scared of mice. However, despite their size, they can be irritated by ants and bees and consequently, farmers in some African countries protect their fields from elephants by lining the borders with beehives.
They also avoid eating a type of acacia tree that is home to ants, since they can get inside their trunk, which is full of sensitive nerve endings.
6. Elephants can get drunk from the marula tree
Stories of African elephants getting drunk from the fermented fruit of the marula tree are not true. Firstly, elephants do not eat the fruit from the ground (where it ferments), and the fresh fruit doesn’t stay in the elephant’s digestive-tract long enough to ferment. Besides that, even if an elephant were to eat the fermented fruit, it would take 1,400 pieces to get it drunk!
7. Elephants walk around on their tip-toes
An elephant’s foot is designed in such a way that they are essentially walking on the tips of their toes!
An X-Ray of an elephant’s foot will reveal that the flat surface is actually a large pad of fatty tissue under the heel, which acts as a shock absorber and helps them move silently.
8. Elephants only use their trunks to drink water
While elephants do use their trunks to transport water to their mouths (holding up to 10 litres of water at a time!), they also use their trunks for breathing, smelling, touching, producing sounds and even picking up the tiniest of objects, including a grain of rice!
9. Elephants are extremely smart
The elephant has a highly-developed brain that is the largest of all land mammals. It is smaller in proportion to its body than that of the brain in humans, but it is actually 3 or 4 times larger.
An elephant’s brain has more complex folds than all animals except whales, which is thought to be a major factor in their intellect. They commonly show grief, humour, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, tool-use, playfulness, and excellent learning abilities.
10. Elephants have great eye-sight
Elephants can only see up to 20 meters in front of them, but their sense of smell and hearing is remarkable, using infrasonic sounds to communicate up to 10km away!
Were you surprised by these facts?
Are you interested in working alongside these wonderful animals, while learning about their social behaviour and biology in Thailand?