Close-up detail of an Elephant trunk
Photo taken at Kariega Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa by Helena Atkinson
We absolutely love this unique photo that was recently entered into the Kariega Photo Competition by Helena Atkinson. In this shot, the camera captures a wealth of detail that would normally escape the human eye. It has inspired us to share some interesting facts about the incredible trunk of the African elephant. Thank you to Helena for sharing with us.
5 Interesting Facts about the Trunk of an African Elephant
1. An elephant trunk contains 40 000 different muscles.
The human body only contains 639! This gives us an idea on the immense complexity of this amazing appendage.
2. The elephant trunk is by far the most versatile appendage on the planet
It is used to breath, drink, eat, smell, snorkel, communicate - as well as being used as a 'hand' to touch, feel, hold, grab, pull etc.
3. The trunk is both extremely delicate and extremely strong.
The African elephant has two finger-like tips at the end of it's trunk that it uses to clasp smaller objects. The trunk is so delicate it is at times used to wipe or clean their eyes. On the other hand, the trunk is an extremely powerful tool that can pull out trees and lift up to 350 kg (770 lb).
4. Elephants are either left or right-handed.
Baby elephants are born not knowing how to use their trunks, much like baby humans are unable to use their arms and hands. They often stumble over their trunks for the first couple of days, but soon their trunks grow considerably and they gain control. Interestingly, elephants show a preference between grasping objects to the left or right, in the same way that children are left or right-handed.