Q:

How many elephants are there in the world?

A:

Quick Answer

As of July 2014, there are between 450,000 and 700,000 African elephants in the world, and between 35,000 and 40,000 Asian elephants, according to Defenders of Wildlife. Both species are threatened not only by habitat loss, but also by poaching for the illegal ivory trade.

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How many elephants are there in the world?
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Full Answer

Despite restrictions, the ivory trade still flourishes in many parts of the world. The organization WildAid reports that 30,000 elephants are killed every year for their tusks. Elephant populations are also threatened by loss of habitat. Many climate change projections suggest that elephant habitats may become hotter and drier, meaning poorer foraging conditions for herds. Even under the best conditions, elephant populations are very slow growing, in part because of the elephant's 22-month gestation period, the longest of any mammal.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why are elephants so big?

    A:

    Elephants evolved to their current size over the course of tens of millions of years; this size adaptation is likely a survival mechanism because a full-sized, adult elephant faces very little threat from predators, though baby elephants are much more vulnerable to predation from big cats such as lions and wild dogs. There have been cases in which adult elephants have fallen victim to attack from big cats, but these cases are rare. The elephant is the largest known land animal, but scientists believe that this massive mammal evolved from a creature that is roughly the size of a small rodent.

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  • Q:

    Do elephants have good memories?

    A:

    An elephant's memory spans a large number of years, according to Defenders of Wildlife. This long memory helps the matriarch lead her herd over long distances to waterholes she remembers from the past.

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  • Q:

    How do elephants communicate?

    A:

    Elephants communicate primarily through vocal calls, though they also use other important methods. These include tactile behaviors, such as touching, as well as synchronized freezing. Elephants also communicate through the secretion of specific chemicals that other herd members can pick up through the elephant's advanced sense of smell.

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  • Q:

    What do elephants look like?

    A:

    Elephants are gray in color and have a long trunk that has several uses, including breathing and feeding. They are the largest land mammals on Earth.

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