ELEPHANT

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ELEPHANT. This well known and sagacious animal belongs to the order of pachydermata, or thickskinned animals, JDesmarest recognises two recent species, the Asiatic (E. Indicus), and the African, (E. Jlfricanus); of which the former is the largest, most readily domesticated, and best known. There are also several extinct species, whose remains are met with in almost every part of the world. Few quadrupeds have attracted more attention from mankind than the elephant. Formed as it were for the service of man in warm climates, it possesses every attribute that can render it useful. It is strong, active and persevering, and so docile and sagacious as to be trained to almost any service. It is not easy to convey in words a distinct idea of the form of any animal. Words, it is true, may assist the imagination in recalling forms with which it is already familiar; but no description, however clear and precise, can give the mind that strong and distinct impression of a new image, which is made by the reality, or even by a representation. This difficulty is peculiary felt in attempting to describe the elephant. His eyes are extremely stnall, his ears very large and pendulous. The whole form is awkward, the head being large, the body thick, and the back much arched; the legs are very clumsy and shapeless, the leet slightly divided into, or, more properly, edged with, five rounded hoofs; the tail is somewhat like that of a hog, and fringed at the extremity by a few very thick, long, black hairs. The skin is generally of a deep ashbrown, approaching to black, though it is sometimes white or creamcolored; skins of this last sort are highly prized, being one of the attributes of royalty in Siam, one of the titles of whose king is, lord of the white elephant The tusks are not visible in young animals, but in a more advanced stage of growth, they are eminently conspicuous, and in the full grown animal they project, in some instances, seven or eight feet. Elephants sometimes attain the height of fifteen feet, but their general height is about nine or ten. Their weight is sometimes enormous, being from four to nine thousand pounds. The female seldom produces more than one at a birth : this, when first born, is about three feet high, and continues to grow till it is sixteen or eighteen years of age. It is said they live to the age of one hundred years and upwards. They feed on vegetables, the young shoots of trees, grain and fruit. The most singular part of the structure of the elephant is his trunk, which is peculiar to this animal, though the long and flexible snout of the tapir bears some resemblance to it. It appears to be an extension of the canals of the nose ; it is cartilaginous, and composed of numerous rings, divided through its whole length by a septum, and terminates in a kind of movable finger. It is of such strength as to be capable of breaking ofF large branches from trees, whilst,, at the same time, it is endowed with such ex*quisite sensibility, that it can grasp the smallest object. The disposition of the you iv. 40 elephant is gentle, and his manners social; hence they are seldom seen except in troops. The wild elephants of Ceylon, which are much esteemed, live in small troops or families. In wandering from place to place, the males, who are furnished with the largest tusks, put themselves at the head, and are tlje first to face every danger. In swimming over any large river, they lead the van, and seek a proper landing place: next follow the young elephants, clinging to each other by means of their trunks, whilst the remainder of the full grown bring up the rear* These animals have, in all ages, been eagerly hunted. Some of the arts which have been employed to kill them or take them merit attention. The Hottentots in South Africa shoot them with tin balls; this chase is attended with considerable danger; for, with every precaution that can be used, the sagacity of the elephant often detects the approach of the hunter, who, in this case, will, in all probability, fall a victim to the rage of the animal, unless he can instantly disable him. Sparman.In the island of Sumatra, the inhabitants split sugar canes, of which food the elephant is very fond, and impregnate thern with poison. Marsden.In Abyssinia, they are pursued by hunters on horseback, in the following manner: Two men, perfectly naked, mount the same horse, the hinderrnost is armed with " broadsword, the lower part of which is covered with cord, and the remainder is exceedingly sharp. In this manner they pursue the elephants, and, having singled out one, they irritate him to attack them, when they ride up close to him, and the armed man slips from the horse on the off side, and, whilst the elephant's attention is engaged with the horse, he divides the tendons of his foot with a single blow, and thus disables him, when he is despatched by lances. Bruce,They are also taken alive in pitfalls, or are driven into enclosures ; in either case they are fed scantily, though regularly, for a few days, when tame elephants are employed to engage their attention till they can be tied fast to a tree ; after they have become somewhat dispirited, they are led away between two tame ones, and put under the care of keepers, who gradually bring them into subjection, more, however, by caresses and soothing than by coercion. When tamed, they become the most gee* tie and obedient of all domestic animals* and, in most cases, are exceedingly fond of their keepers, and soon learn to distinguish the various tones of the humaii voice, as expressive of anger, approbation or command. The domestic elephant performs more work than six horses, but at the same time, requires much care, and a plentiful supply of food. He is generally fed with rice, either raw or boiled, and mixed with water. To keep him in full vigor, a hundred pounds of this food is said to be required daily, besides fresh herbage to cool him, and he must be led to the water twice or thrice a day to bathe. His daily consumption of water as drink is about forty gallons. To enumerate all the services of these .useful animals would be incompatible with the design of this, work. They are employed in carrying burdens on their bodies, necks, and even in their' mouths, by means of a rope, the end of which they hold fast with* their teeth ; they load a boat with amazing dexterity, carefully keeping all the articles dry, and disposing them where they ought to be placed. In propelling wheel carriages heavily laden up a declivity, they push them forward with their forehead, and support them with their knees. In draggiug beams of wood along the ground, they remove obstacles or elevate the ends of the beams so as to clear them. Before the invention of fire arms, they were used in war by many nations of antiquity; they are still employed in the East in dragging artillery over mountains. During the rutting season, this animal is often seized with a madness which deprives him of all tractability, and renders him so dangerous, that it is often necessary to kill him. In many parts of India, elephants are made the executioners of justice; for they will with their trunks either break the limbs of a criminal, trample him to death, or pierce him with their tusks, as they may be directed. In the island of Ceylon, the general value of an elephant is about $250; but if there is any blemish, as a want of tail, &c, very considerable deductions are made. They are taken at certain stated periods, and generally a peat number are sold together by auction. Elephants appear to be very susceptible to the power of music, variations in the character of the sounds producing corresponding changes in the emotions of the animals. The tusks of the elephant have long been applied, under the denomination of ivory', to a variety of important uses in the arts. From the fossil remains which have.been discovered, it is apparent that they must have been abundantly distributed over the earth ; and some of ibein appear to have been adapted to a much rnore northern climate than is now inhabited by the elephant. The specimen which was, some years since, found imbedded in ice in Siberia, was covered with a long and coarse hair, and with a finer and woolly covering, which was short, and closely applied to the surface, thus protecting it against the severe cold of those latitudes. The accounts of the manners and intelligence of the elephant as given by writers, although in many cases evidently exaggerated, still afford proof of a surprising degree of sagacity, and fully entitle him to the rank of" Wisest of brutes, with gentle might endowed) Though powerful, not destructive."