At present, the total number of elephants in India is about 50,000. They are 8-10 feet tall, 18-20 feet long, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. They eat about 300 pounds of food everyday mostly fruit, branches, bark, and roots. They drink 40 gallons of water a day.
Most female elephants bear one baby. At birth, the baby weighs 200 pounds. They reach maturity when they are 15 years old. The life span of an elephant is 60 years, but because of poaching and loss of habitat, only 50% live past 15 years. Only 20% live past 30 years.
Elephants have been used as weapons of war for thousands of years. The major use of elephants as war machines was between 400B.C. to 700 A.D. They were most often used to stampede opposing cavalry. Elephants were also used to transport heavy stones in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
Tusks are large incisor teeth that grow throughout the elephant's life. They are found only in Asian male elephants. Their tusks of ivory have been used to make works of art for centuries. The only way to get the ivory was by killing the elephant. This is illegal in India which has resulted in poaching, illegal hunting. Several nations have banned international trade of products from endangered species.
1. How much weight does an average elephant gain from birth to maturity? About how many tons is this?
2. Of a population of 50,000 how many would be expected to die before the age of 30?
3. How many would live past the age of 15?
4. You are a special driver called a mahout. You must provide your elephant with water every day. You have a 5 gallon bucket. How many times would you have to fill it each week?
5. You work in an elephant reserve and are responsible for feeding 6 elephants. How many pounds of food would you need in a year? At $50 a pound, how much would it cost annually?
6. How long were elephants used as war machines? Approximately how many years ago did they stop using elephants in that way?