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Loxodonta africana 

Linguistics
Actual scientific name :   Loxodonta africana 
     
Old scientific name :    
     
French name :   Eléphant
     
English name :   Elephant
     
Vernacular name :  
Polo, kapumbu, nzovu (Kiluba); ngefu, ngevu (Kisonge); Nzovu (Kiluba-Hemba); nsofu (Kilala); Nzovu (Kitabwa); n-jogi (Kiholoholo); nzafu, njamba, nzovu; bull = nkungulu, tuskless = nkunka (Lunda); njamba, djamba (Ulwena); njamba (Kitshok); zuvu (Kibangubangu); Nzofu, nzovu mâle = Nkungulu, femelle = XHikumbe, Xhingombe, sans pointes = ngungwa, à une seule pointe = XHipekwa (Kikaonde); insofu (Kiaushi); Nsofu, mâle = Nkulungu, femelle = Inansofu, à 1 pointe = Kino kino, sans pointes = Tondo ou Mungwa (Kilala); Insofu, sans pointes = inungwa, mâle = inkungulu (Kilamba); nzevu (Tshiluba); njoku (Lingala); insofu, nsofu; mâle = inkungulu ; femelle = nakasata; jeune = inghandula; dont les défenses commencent à sortir = ichibulumo; sans défense = tondo ; à une seule défense = umupembe (Kibemba) ; Tembo, ndovu (Kiswahili)
 


 

Zoology
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Description :   The African elephant is the biggest terrestrial animal, measuring more than 3 m in the withers and weighing on average 4 tons. Males are bigger and heavier than females. The trunk of the elephant, this long and prehensile nasal organ and is approximately 150 cm long and weighs more than 100 kg. It ends by two prehensile finger-like projections capable of picking a blade of grass.
The trunk, made of several thousand muscles, is capable of lifting objects weighing 250 kg. The elephant uses its trunk to get food (branches, fruits, leaves, etc.) and to place it in its mouth; to drink; to splash its body with water or mud in order to wash and/or protect itself from the sun. The trunk is also used as a snorkel when the elephant swims. Furthermore, it plays a very important role in elephants’ social interactions: they greet each other by winding their trunks, mutually stroke, and raise it when they want to warn other individuals of danger. They also use their trunks as a weapon. The African elephant has two tusks, developed upper incisor teeth that have a continuous growth, measuring approximately 250 cm long and weighing about 60 kg each in old individuals. They are used as weapon, tools and sexual attributes.
The elephant also has molars, replaced six times during its lifetime, when the previous ones are too worn out. When the last molars are worn out, the animal generally starves. The African elephant has big ears that help him to regulate its internal temperature. The grey skin, strewed with black hairs which wear out with years, is on average 3 cm thick. The long tail ends by a tuft of stiff hair.  
     
Habitat :   Wooded savannah, forests, marshes.
Used to be omnipresent in Katanga. Today, a few hundreds at the most are left in the Kamalondo’s depression. 
     
Behaviour :   Gregarious animals living in herds composed of 10 to 200 individuals. Their society is based on a social matriarchal community, the oldest female leading a clan of a few elephants. She determines when they rest, bathe, eat or drink. These clans are usually composed of females and young animals. Adult males often live solitary.
Elephants express dominance by raising their heads, trunks, and ears; by shaking their heads and by producing rumbles with their trunks or with their mouths. Usually, elephants are rather active during day, but in zones where they are disturbed by human activity, they become mainly nocturnal.
Elephants spend most of their time looking for food. Daily, they can consume between 160 and 260 kg of food. Furthermore, elephants need to drink a lot (approximately 100 litres per day).
Their vision is not well developed, but their hearing and sense of smell are excellent.
They have an average lifespan of 70 years. 
     
Diet :   Grasses, plants, leaves, fruits, roots and tubercles, bark, shoots.
 
     
Life history :   Elephants reach their sexual maturity around 11 years. When a bull is in must, he verifies if the cow is in oestrus by smelling her genitals and by using his Jacobson’s organ.
After a gestation period of about 22 months, females usually retire with 2 or 3 other cows to give birth to a young weighing around 129 kg. He is weaned at 2 years.
 
     
Distribution in Katanga :   view map  
 
 
History, Ethnology, Sociology
Interactions with humans :   Humans-elephants conflict has always been a problem in Africa. In Katanga, where population density has always been low in the country, conflicts were limitated at fields' damages and mortal accidents often hold against injured or chased elephants.  
     
Taboos :   All populations in Katanga share the same taboo. Women and young people are forbidden to look at the pulpar nerve that is taking out of the elephant's tusk.  
     
Legends, believes, folklore :   Legends concerning elephants are numerous. Here is what one could read in the report of a Rhodesian gamekeeper: in 1938, the big elephants' hunter Charles Ross, was trampled to death by his 350th pachyderm. He was buried in the great elephants hunters' cemetery at Mpika, Northern Rhodesia. Africans asserted then that when a elephants' hunter was buried, elephants came to tootle on his grave, but no one was able to assert if it was a sign or respect towards their opponent or a sign of triumph to have overcome him. The day after the funeral, the Blacks told that the elephants came to trample Ross's grave during night. After inquiry, it turned out that tracks were visible a few meters away from the cemetery, while the elephants had never come so close to the station before. 
     
Fishing, hunting :   Elephant's hunt was traditionaly reserved to specialised hunters. Tusks were given to the chief who indemnified the hunter by offering him either a gun or a slave.  
     
Feeding :   Its meat is consumed. The kill of one elephant provided proteins to a whole village for many days.  
     
Breeding, taming :   The elephants with which Hannibal crossed the Alpes and attacked Rome where tamed African elephants.
At the end of the 19th century, the Commander Laplume tamed African elephants in teh North of Congo.  
     
Uses of skin or other body parts :   Do we need to recall that elephants have always been chased for their ivory that was used for objects as diverse as billiard's balls or piano's keys.  
  


Warning :

This database was established according to official pieces of work and with the help of famous scientists. However, there might be some errors.

The vernacular names were collected in the field and in the colonial literature from the first part of the 20th century. The monks who established the first dictionaries were not necessarily informed naturalists. Therefore, errors must have been committed.

We invite everyone who could help us to improve this working tool to contact us in order to correct us and share her/his knowledge with us.



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