How Do African Elephants Migrate?

A matriarch African elephant leads the herd through migration by using her memory to find safe routes with plentiful food and water. Families of elephants join to make a large group for safe migration.

African elephants migrate to avoid predators, find new resources and seek desirable climates. Migratory herds may include up to 500 elephants. Elephants that live in desert areas sometimes migrate in circles to search for abundant water supplies.

These animals often inhabit harsh climates that are difficult to survive in. Large ears diffuse heat to keep the animal cool in hot weather. The trunk is a multifunctional body part that allows elephants to siphon and spray water, grab objects, fight off enemies, drink and communicate with the herd. They eat roots, berries, tree bark and grasses. African elephants are foragers that require little sleep. These factors help the animals roam long distances in areas with few food resources during migration.

Baby elephants can nurse for as long as 10 years, which helps them survive during food shortages. Mothers keep their babies close at all times during migration and teach them how to survive while traveling with a herd. Female babies are likely to stay with the herd longer than males.