African Elephant (Loxodonia africana)
The largest land animal is also one of the most intelligent and intertaining to watch. A fully grown elphant is about 3.5 m high and weighs around 6,000 kg. Female elephants live in closely knit clans in which the oldest female takes a matriarchal role over her sisters, daughters, and granddaughters. Mother-daughter bonds are strong and may exist for up to 50 years. Male generally leave the family group at around 12 years, after which they either roam around on their own or form bachelor herds. Under normal circumstances, elephants range widely in search of food and water but, when concentrated populations are forced to live in conservation areas, their habit of uprooting trees can cause serious environmental damage. Two races of elephant are recognised: the savannah elephants of east and southern Africa and the smaller and slightly hairier forest elephant of the West African rainforest. The two races are thought to interbreed in parts of western Uganda. Despite severe poaching in the past, elephants occur in all national parks except for lake Mburo National Park. They are most likely to be seen in Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.