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If it were not for humans, elephants would probably rate among the most successful species on Earth.

The elephant family is made up of the African (Loxadonta Africana) and the Asian (Elephas Maximus) elephant. (Though there is a recognized subspecies of the African, known as the Forest (Loxadonta Africana Cyclotis) elephant found in the rainforests of the African continent.)

In elephant society, family herds are led by an old grandmother known as the matriarch. She is the dominant female, and the herd she is in charge of will probably consist of her sisters, daughters, female cousins, and their young offspring. A typical herd consists of 20 to 40 females (cows) of all ages.Because elephants live to such a great age - possibly as long as 70 years - their social ties last for decades.

The main way an elephant communicates deliberately is, as with humans, by sound. Elephant vocalizations range from high-pitched squeaks to deep rumbles. These deep rumbles, as much as two thirds of what an elephant is saying, are too low for the human ear to detect.

The saying "an elephant never forgets" is close to the truth. Elephants do have a remarkable memory. In the wild, elephants appear to remember for years their relationships with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other elephants, some of whom they may only see occasionally. The advantages of a good memory may explain why they have evolved such a large brain.

Elephants play such an important role in their ecosystem that, the loss of elephants from an area would cause the existing ecosystem to collapse. When conservationists try to protect elephants, their work has a wider aim as well - to save the whole ecosystem and preserve biodiversity.

References "Elephant Web Ring site" by Denise Hargrove .

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