Name That Elephant: How to Identify Elephants in the Wild


Veins, a Unique Elephant Fingerprint

Photograph Courtesy of ElephantVoices

Photograph Courtesy of ElephantVoices


Sharp photographs in good light reveal the pattern of veins on an elephant’s ears, which are as unique as our human fingerprints. “With a bit of sleuthing,” Poole said, “even years and new notches and tears later, an elephant can be reidentified using these vein patterns.”



Photograph Courtesy of ElephantVoices

Photograph Courtesy of ElephantVoices

An elephant’s tusks don’t start to take shape until they are around eight to ten years old. Tusks vary in shape and size: They may curve upward, grow inward, go straight down, or be missing altogether. Tusks may break and grow back too, which makes them less reliable than ears, Poole said. Kegol (meaning “powerful and strong” in the Maasai language), the large adult male at right, has tusks that are convergent, or curve inward, while Big Mama, the large female at left, has straighter tusks, with the left tusk shorter.

It is rare for a male African elephant to be “tuskless,” but this inherited trait is seen in females. Since poachers kill elephants with tusks, the degree of tusklessness is a good indicator of the level of ivory poaching a population has experienced. “Sadly this trait is increasing across Africa,” said Poole, “but we can’t depend on this inherited trait to save elephants from extinction since, as it is a sex-linked gene, it doesn’t protect males.”

Source: Posted by Christy Ullrich of National Geographic in A Voice for Elephants on August 16, 2013

About William Louis Gardner

William Louis Gardner was born in Minnesota and finished school there. He joined the US Air Force and worked at the Pentagon in the Target Library of the world. Went on to the Pasadena Playhouse to learn television and movie making. He got a job with actress Marion Davies at her home. There He met a movie agent and started a career in Hollywood. William Louis Gardner has worked in Hollywood as the agent, personal secretary, PR advisor and manager for for Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Jill St.John, Bobby Van and director, John Huston. William Gardner is the author of two books, "Confessions of a Hollywood Agent," and "The Games End." William on GooglePlus
This entry was posted in Africa, Animals, elephant, elephants, endangered, facts,, Ivory, photography, Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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