Being mammals themselves, humans tend to have more passion and concern for other mammals, especially the ones that are endangered. Firstly, what mostly differs mammals from other animals is the existence of vertebrates in their anatomy, and the fact that the females produce milk to feed the young, among other things. IUCN says that there are about 1100 endangered or threatened mammal species, which makes roughly 20% of all mammals. That said, lets look at one of the most endangered species of them on our planet.
There are two types of elephants, the main difference being the size, the African, which is bigger, and the Asian. The African, of course, comes from Africa, and lives in all kinds of habitats, from dense forests, savannahs, through marshes, semidesserts, to grasslands and desserts. It feeds on a variety of plants, like grass, or leafs and twigs from trees, fruits when available. They show remarkable intelligence when feeding sometimes, knocking down trees to reach the to higher edible parts, or digging in search of roots or underground water. Due to this healthy digestion, they live up to 60 years old in the wild, and even 80 in captivity. Their age can be determined by the length of time their grinding teeth last. Without them, the elephant can’t chew his food, and will die.
The reduction in the African elephants population is because of three different factors: 1) the killing of elephants for their tusks(ivory), which is a highly valuable resource. This is the most influential factor on the decrease of their population. 2)desertification, a major cause of the disappearance of not only elephants, but many other species as well. 3)The most recent factor, which has not been always around, the conflict between humans and elephants for land. This is due to the massive growth of human population. Of course, there are many other reasons, like the availability of weapons, the apathy towards elephants because they sometimes destroy crops, untrained wildlife authorities and many more, but those three are the major ones.
The Asian elephants are smaller then their relatives in Africa. They live in higher areas and altitudes, like hills and mountains, even to 3600 m high, in habitats like thick jungles or plains with grass. It can be found in places like the Himalayas, mountains of China, Sri Lanka, Indo-Burma, India and Indo-china. What is specific for these elephants is that the males begin to live a solitary life when they reach their sexual maturity, which is at about the age of 10-17 years. This is probably because they are still to young or weak to contribute to the reproduction and attracting older females, which achieve their sexual maturity at the age of 9-12 years. The females always live in family groups that consist of mother, daughters, sisters and immature males, which usually has about 30-50 members, although there can be found groups with even 100. They feed on grasses, branches, bark, flowers, fruits, and they even dig for roots such as bamboo.
Due to the technological advances in the 19th century, which were not likely here, but came from abroad, the population of the Asian elephants severely dropped. Their feeding grounds were destroyed or taken by humans, which is the biggest problem for the population. They were also killed because they destroyed crops, and for their tusks. The females do not have any tusks, so they were not killed for this reason, but extreme male hunting sometimes lead to a disturbed and problematic female:male elephant ratio.