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African Elephant at a mineral lick

African Elephant at a mineral lick

C036/9462

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Credit

TONY CAMACHO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TONY CAMACHO / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

A young African elephant (Loxodonta africana) taking in nutrients from a mineral lick at the Chudop water-hole in Etosha National Park in Namibia, Southern Africa. Mineral licks provide biometals (sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and trace elements) required for health and growth, especially where the ecosystem is generally lacking in such nutrients. Whilst Etosha's elephants are some of the largest in Africa, reaching a shoulder height of 4m, they have smallish tusks, which is partly due to a mineral deficiency in their food, causing their tusks to break easily. The other reason for their small tusks is their genetic origin.

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