african elephant (loxodonta africana) the largest of modern land animals. the mass of old males reaches 7.5 t, and the height in the shoulders — 4 m (on average, males have a mass of 5 t, females — 3 t) . however, despite the massive addition, the elephant is remarkably agile, easy movements, without rushing fast. he swims well, and over the surface of the water, leaving only the forehead and the tip of the trunk, without apparent effort, overcomes a steep climb, free feels among the rocks. a striking sight is a herd of elephants in the forest. absolutely noiselessly animals literally cut through dense thickets. so it seems that they are immaterial: no cod, no rustle, no movement of branches and leaves. smooth, seemingly unhurried step elephant covers in search of food or away from the danger of great distances, passing over the night tens of kilometers. no wonder it is considered useless to pursue the disturbed herd of elephants. the african elephant inhabits a vast territory south of the sahara. in ancient times it was found in north africa, but now disappeared from there completely. despite the vast area of distribution, it is not easy to meet elephants: in large quantities they are now only in national parks and reserves. thus, in uganda in the 20s elephants lived on 70% of the territory, and now they occupy no more than 17% of the country. in many countries there are no elephants outside protected areas. elephants rarely live alone. but the multi-hundred herds, which travelers of the last century wrote about, are now almost gone. the usual composition of elephant herds — 9-12 the old, the young and very young animals. typically, in a herd there is the bellwether, most often the old elephant. however, sometimes the leader are males, especially during migration. a herd of elephants is a very friendly community. animals get to know each other well and protect their young together; known cases where elephants helped the wounded brethren, taking them from dangerous places. fights between elephants are rare, and only animals suffering from some pain, such as a broken tusk, become quarrelsome and irritable. usually such elephants are removed from the herd, but it is not known whether they prefer loneliness or they are expelled by healthy companions.