This video takes an up-close look at African elephants in their natural environment. Viewers will gain insight into the structure of elephant matriarchies—communities made up of related females—and learn about how members communicate to coordinate movement, care for one another, and mourn the deaths of family members.
The video also provides a brief overview of the physical characteristics that make African elephants so unique—including their tusks. The illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks and the resulting black-market trade in elephant ivory has pushed the elephant population to the lowest levels ever recorded.
Produced to accompany the National Geographic film Battle for the Elephants, which explores the history of and economics behind the brutal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks, this short video takes us into the world of the African elephant—a world where survival is increasingly at risk.
Soila, the naturalist in the video, says that elephants have excellent memories. How do you think elephants use their memories to survive in their environment?
Elephants live in matriarchal communities, made up of female members. According to the video, male elephants wander around on their own, or live in “looser communities.” What do you think makes male elephant communities different from elephant matriarchies?
The video says tusks are actually elephants' long incisor teeth. What are incisors? Can you think of other animals with tusks?
For Further Exploration
- SeaWorld: Elephants—Behavior
- Animal Fact Guide: African Elephant
- Elephant Neighbors Center: Elephant Facts Sheet
- National Geographic News: A Voice for Elephants: Elephants Communicate in Sophisticated Sign Language, Researchers Say
- National Geographic Animals: African Elephant
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry conservation Noun
management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
Encyclopedic Entry: conservation coordinate Verb
to work together or organize for a specific goal.
hard, white substance that forms the teeth or tusks of some animals.
family, society, or community led by women.
to express sadness over a person's death.
to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.
type of tropical grassland with scattered trees.
very long tooth found in animals like elephants and walruses.