National Geographic : 1951 Mar
Playful Pachyderms Rub Noses, Tangle Tusks Limp ears, drooping tail, and casual stance show the jumbos are only jousting, not fighting. Thirst quenched and hunger appeased, members of Africa's happiest mammal fam ily enjoy a ponderous frolic. The elephant's bulk usually guarantees immunity from attack by other animals ex cept man and rogues (out laws) of his own species. When surprised by hunters, a herd sticks together; it even forms a wall of defense around older and infirm individuals. If one is wounded, others often rush to the rescue and support the victim between their mas sive flanks; thus, in a body, they move away. Almost as remarkable as its trunk is the elephant's foot. The forefoot has four nails, the hind but three. An elephant walks on its toes, which are encased in baglike skin with well-padded bottom. Feet swell under the beast's weight, contract with removal of pres sure. Thus the monster can move through swamps with out getting stuck in the mud, for when it lifts its legs, feet shrink, reducing suction. Although its hide is inch thick, the elephant feels the cold. and so lives close to the Equator. In its much-wrinkled suit, baggy at knees and rubbed at elbows, the beast always looks as if it had slept in its clothes.