Hand Crafted in Kingdom of Swaziland
Width: 3 1/2 inches
Length: 3 1/2 inches
Height: 3 inches
Amongst the mountains that encircle the tiny African Kingdom of Swaziland is one that resembles a basking crocodile. At its summit is the world's most ancient iron ore mine, dating back 43 000 years and at its foot is the remote village - NGWENYA- (Siswati name for "crocodile"). Here a small group of Swazi craftsmen and women - with age old artistry - breath life into enchanting interpretations of the animals and birds of Africa.
About the Elephant.
Elephants are the largest land animals now living. The elephant's gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth it is common for an elephant calf to weigh 260 lb. They typically live for 50 to 70 years, but the oldest recorded elephant lived for 82 years. The largest elephant ever recorded was shot in Angola in 1956. This male weighed about 26,000 lb, with a shoulder height of 14 ft, a yard taller than the average male African elephant.
Healthy adult elephants have no natural predators, although lions may take calves or weak individuals. They are, however, increasingly threatened by human intrusion and poaching. Once numbering in the millions, the African elephant population has dwindled to between 470,000 and 690,000 individuals according to a March 2007 estimate. While the elephant is a protected species worldwide, with restrictions in place on capture, domestic use, and trade in products such as ivory, CITES reopening of "one time" ivory stock sales, has resulted in increased poaching. Certain African nations report a decrease of their elephant populations by as much as two-thirds, and populations in certain protected areas are in danger of being eliminated. Since recent poaching has increased by as much as 45%, the current population is unknown.
African elephants are distinguished from Asian elephants in several ways, the most noticeable being their ears which are much larger. The African elephant is typically larger than the Asian elephant and has a concave back. Both African males and females have external tusks and are usually less hairy than their Asian cousins.
African elephants have traditionally been classified as a single species comprising two distinct subspecies, namely the savanna elephant, and the forest elephant, but recent DNA analysis suggests that these may actually constitute distinct species. This split is not universally accepted by experts and a third species of African elephant has also been proposed.
This reclassification has important implications for conservation, because it means that where previously it was assumed that a single and endangered species comprised two small populations, if in reality these are two separate species, then as a consequence, both could be more gravely endangered than a more numerous and wide-ranging single species might have been. There is also a potential danger in that, if the forest elephant is not explicitly listed as an endangered species, poachers and smugglers might be able to evade the law forbidding trade in endangered animals and their body parts.
The Forest elephant and the Savanna elephant can also hybridise – that is, breed together – successfully, though their preferences for different terrains reduce such opportunities. As the African elephant has only recently been recognized to comprise two separate species, groups of captive elephants have not been comprehensively classified and some could well be hybrids.
Under the new two species classification, Loxodonta africana refers specifically to the Savanna Elephant, the largest of all elephants. It is the largest land animal, with males standing 10 ft to 13 ft at the shoulder and weighing 7,700 lb up to a reported 26,000 lb. The female is smaller, standing about 9.8 ft at the shoulder. Most often, Savanna Elephants are found in open grasslands, marshes, and lakeshores. They range over much of the savanna zone south of the Sahara.