Elephants belong to the large family of mammals which weigh between 7,000 kg to 10,000 kg depending on their age. They are mostly found in the jungles of Africa and Southeast Asia. They are herbivores and very sensitive to human touch. They are great companions for humans. Due to their close relation with humans during war and slavery, they are popularly used in Madhubani paintings and folklore.
Their usual lifespan is 70 years and they communicate by touch, sight, smell, and sound. An elephant’s intelligence is compared with our primitive kind. This large animal holds a large heart of compassion towards its own kind. They are seen in tears when someone close to them dies.
Elephant’s tusk add a majestic look and give them royalty over other animals. Elephant tusks are very valuable. People love the idea of owning ivory and it shows no sign of waning. Elephants are poached by hunters and their skin and tusks are used for commercial purposes. Here are some lesser-known facts about elephant tusks:
1. The longest tusk ever recorded was 138 inches long and weighed 314 pounds (over 140 kg) which made it the heaviest tusk ever recorded.
2. Elephants use their tusks to defend themselves from other animals and for feeding themselves.
3. An elephant’s tusk are dangerous for it as they lead to brutal slaughter by hunters/poachers.
4. About one third of the tusk is embedded in their head and the hidden part is known as pulp which is made of tissues, blood vessels and nerves.
5. They also use their tusks for digging, making their way, stripping bark and foraging.
6. Elephants normally prefer one tusk over the other, similar to being left or right handed in humans. The preferred tusk is known as the master tusk.
7. Archaeologists and historians have recorded tools made out of ivory such as hairpins, buttons, combs, chopsticks, needles, billiard balls, piano keys and handles.
8. Trained logging elephants are capable of lifting heavy loads with only their tusks.
9. Although tusks are present at the birth of a baby elephant, they are replaced by permanent ones after one year.
10. Ivory tusks are sold in the black market starting from $1,500 (about 1 lakh).
Last year, Mumbai Police seized a 100 year-old tusk which was worth Rs. 2 crore. Many countries, including the US, have banned hunting and selling of ivory. Though China considers gifting ivory figurines their cultural heritage and is not in any mood to ban it.