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Cool off with your own urine

The young male trots leisurely on the grounds to the car, in the Immanuel, the tourist guide, with the guests sitting in. The animal sniffs with his trunk briefly to the bonnet and back to the trees, to Eat. "He just wanted to say Hello," says Immanuel. The other elephants of the herd ignore the vehicle and not interfere. They stuff themselves constantly green stuff into the mouth and are not yet well-fed. The reason: they live in the desert. The pachyderms to pull in the river bed of dry rivers in the Kunene Region, in the North-West of Namibia, is always the food.

The Region is almost three times as large as Switzerland. The dry rivers in the rule only once in a year water, in the rainy season between February and may. But even if you are dried out, seams a green vegetation band in the shore.

life During African elephants usually in the Savannah or in the wetlands that have adapted to the desert elephant in the dry habitat. In addition to the in Namibia, the domestic group, there is only one other that is in such an arid Zone at home in Mali.

Behind dense bushes, three small elephants now come to the fore. They are still playful. Constantly tormenting her, and one another, and nudge colleagues with the trunk on the Po. This turns and knotted playful his own Perfume and gripping organ with the attacker. A gorgeous-looking game! All the more, as the Junior it has to under the strict conditions are difficult.

desert elephants to filter the drinking water

"to The desert-adapted elephants only get all eight to twelve years of a young animal," says Keith Leggett. The biologist who now works at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, has studied a few years ago the behaviour of the desert elephant in Namibia. Elephants, which live in regions with enough water and food, give birth, however, every three to four years of a calf.

Leggett explains some of the strategies that he has observed in the elephant, in order to withstand heat and drought. After all, many a COP plastered up to 250 pounds of plant foods a day and actually need up to 160 gallons of water. Desert elephants, however, must go without for three days on liquid.

in Addition, you would filter the water, reports Leggett. Researchers from the USA and Namibia, it was noticed that the desert elephants dig holes to the ground water in the vicinity of the rivers, even if this water. Thus, a behavior elephants do not show in wet regions. Investigations of the water quality and confirmed that in the trunk and the feet, pushed away the holes the water is less contaminated with Faecal bacteria than in standing or flowing waters.

Also against the heat of the Kunene have developed elephant new Tricks. "Sometimes you throw the wet Sand, on the you short have previously urinated on the back," says Keith Leggett. Apparently, elephants can also save in a cavity between the tongue and the throat a few liters of water. You get out in the midday heat, and spray it on your ears, the – bleeding through – as the air conditioning serve.

The desert elephants are not a separate species, as in the 80s, conservationists have claimed. The pachyderms only look slimmer and have bigger feet. But that is not a genetic feature. "The feet are easily kicked wide, because the elephants go mainly on soft ground," says Leggett. To date, three elephant species are known. The forest elephant is smaller, and in the tropical forests of West and Central Africa, hidden, was described in 2000 as the third type in addition to the Indian and the African elephants.

the elephants of The Kunene Region pairs, however, with other African counterparts, white Leggett from genetic studies. So cops from the Etosha national Park in Northern Namibia, where it is more humid, more than 300 kilometers under the feet, to copulate elephant cows in the desert. The females do not wander so far, but can also be up to 70 kilometers between the various dry rivers.

Thirsty pachyderms village fountain

Due to poaching and inhibition destroy lots of hunting, especially during the war in Angola and the war of independence in Namibia were to become extinct, the elephant in the desert almost. Therefore, today, they form part of an unusual herds. While usually related females live together with their descendants, together in the Kunene Region is also not related to cows, and found Leggett. And establish smaller herds.

The area of the Huab river, where we met with Immanuel, the elephant, is sparsely populated. Otherwise it looks further to the South, the Ugab dry river. There, it often came to conflicts with the population. The destruction by the elephants in search of water often wells and pumps, or attack. The Locals fight back and also have already killed animals.

Therefore, Johannes Haasbroek and Rachel Harris have founded in 2003 the Organisation "Elephant Human Relations Aid" (elephant-human relations aid). Together with a Team of volunteers – also Swiss – protect fountain with stone walls, water points for the elephants and schools, villagers and tourist guides in dealing with Them. In addition to the government, the animals, and observe the walks.

tourism makes sure that the elephants also bring in the Local money. "Most of the leaders are very respectful with the animals," says Harris. – When the landrover suddenly in the way of a pre-marching elephants, a Immanuel the reverse.

(Sunday newspaper)

Created: 08.12.2018, 21:12 PM

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