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This video takes an up-close look at African elephants in their natural environment. Viewers will gain insight into the structure of elephant matriarchies—communities made up of related females—and learn about how members communicate to coordinate movement, care for one another, and mourn the deaths of family members. 

The video also provides a brief overview of the physical characteristics that make African elephants so unique—including their tusks. The illegal poaching of elephants for their tusks and the resulting black-market trade in elephant ivory has pushed the elephant population to the lowest levels ever recorded.

Produced to accompany the National Geographic film Battle for the Elephants, which explores the history of and economics behind the brutal slaughter of African elephants for their tusks, this short video takes us into the world of the African elephant—a world where survival is increasingly at risk.

  1. Soila Sayialel, the naturalist in the video, describes elephants' outstanding memory. What role do students think elephants' memories may play in their survival?

     

  2. In what ways do students think elephant communities are similar to and different from human families?

  3. How do students think poaching—the illegal harvesting of elephant tusks—affects the remaining elephants in a family? How do they think poaching might impact the ultimate survival of the community?

     

Noun

management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

coordinate
Verb

to work together or organize for a specific goal.

ivory
Noun

hard, white substance that forms the teeth or tusks of some animals.

luxury
Noun

expensive item.

matriarchy
Noun

family, society, or community led by women.

mourn
Verb

to express sadness over a person's death.

poach
Verb

to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.

savanna
Noun

type of tropical grassland with scattered trees.

survive
Verb

to live.

tusk
Noun

very long tooth found in animals like elephants and walruses.