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Photographer's Note

One thing about Tsavo East that was truly memorable was the large number of elephants we saw. This little group was part of a larger herd who were enjoying the plentiful food in the area.


Among herbivores, the elephants’ diet is perhaps the least specialised. Daily fare is vegetarian and ranges from roots, grasses, leaves, fruit, twigs, seedpods, and tree bark. The milling action of the two pairs of huge long, rasp-like molars, and the incredible versatile trunk, means that the elephant can feed from ground level up to 6m and eat virtually anything green. The elephant's molars slide forward and backward rather than side-to-side, unlike other herbivores.
Thanks to the marvellous dexterity of the trunk, elephants can pick up nuts, strip off leaves and bark, break off branches, and uproot shrubs and small trees. Some bulls master the technique of pushing over mature trees; this trait makes them very significant habitat modifiers, wherever they range in Africa.
An elephant consumes about 4% to 6% of its body weight daily. The average bull therefore munches about 300 kg while a cow takes 170 kg of food per day. Considering that this is such a huge animal, this is actually modest. The reason, as physiologists will tell you, is that compared to smaller mammals, elephants lose a lot less heat due to lower surface area to body ratio. The elephant's fibrous dung shows that digestion is very incomplete- only about 44% of food is assimilated compared to 66% for common ruminants

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Additional Photos by Rosemary Walden (SnapRJW) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2763 W: 81 N: 6774] (30665)
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