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Elephant Drawings

“Elephants lend themselves very well to the medium of pencil drawing because of their grey colours and tones. However, drawing elephants can also be very time-consuming due to the amount of shading that can be required for their skin.” David Dancey-Wood.

Elephant drawings are also powerful examples of black and white art that can be matched with any room and style of interior design. David has drawn elephants several times and his drawings of elephants have become favourites amongst collectors, especially his baby elephant drawings.

Each artist has their own individual style, and David's is to make a super realistic and anatomically accurate drawings. This is one of the main reasons that David's artwork, especially his drawings of elephants, is so captivating.

A drawing of a baby elephant by David Dancey-Wood

Baby elephant drawing, by David Dancey-Wood

Copyright Hawksbill Fine Art 2021

Facts about Elephants

There is perhaps no bigger, more symbolic animal than an elephant. Graceful, wise, gentle, loyal, peaceful, powerful, elephants can capture the imagination like no other. Scientists believe that elephants have roamed the Earth for over fifty-five million years and fossil records dictate that there have been well over three hundred species.

Meaning so much to so many, when describing elephants, I am drawn to a quote by English poet John Donne, who exclaimed that the elephant is;

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the only harmless great thing.”

Photo of an elephant by Alexander-Shustov

Photo Copyright Alexander Shustov

Elephant’s, the world’s gentle giants

Elephants are members of the Probosciade family which scientists believe date back fifty-five million years. Elephants are the largest living land mammal, but they started a lot smaller! Scientists have traced elephant ancestry back to the first elephant ‘Moeritherium.’

Moeritherium was believed to be the size of a pig, and are believed to have lived in swamp like habitats. It is believed to be around thirty-five million years ago when the Proboscidean started to resemble the modern elephant with the evolution of the Paleomastodon. The Paleomastodon was believed to be the size of a cow and had tusks and a trunk.

The modern elephant first came into existence around five million years ago. Elephants have long since evolved and have lived in a variety of different habitats. Elephant fossils have been found all over the world, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica.

Photo of two elephants by Karl-Paul-Baldacchino

Photo Copyright Karl Paul Baldacchino

How many species of modern elephants are there?

Today elephants can be found in Africa and Asia and there are three main species, The African Savanna, The African Forest and Asian Elephant. Both African and Asian elephants differ dramatically in terms of their appearance.

Asian elephants are smaller than their African counterparts and have much smaller ears. The African Savanna is larger than The African Forest. The African elephants have much larger ears in order to keep themselves cool in their hot climate.

The other area where the species differ is their trunks. African elephants have trunks that have two distinct ‘fingers’ which it uses to pick up and manipulate objects. The Asian elephant has only one ‘finger’. The Asian elephant compensates for only having one finger by holding objects against the underside of its trunk and appears not to suffer from any lack of maneuverability.

Photo of an elephant in a river by Felix-m-Dorn-niz

Photo Copyright Felix M Dorn

What do elephants eat?

As you could probably imagine due to their vast size, elephants can eat vast amounts and on average they can consume between 149 and 169 kg of vegetation daily.

An elephant can spend most of the day feeding, they consume grasses, small plants, bushes, fruit, twigs, tree bark, and roots. Tree bark is a favorite food source for elephants. It contains calcium and roughage, which aids digestion. An elephant will use its tusks to carve into the trunk and tear off strips of bark.

As well as veg and foliage, elephants drink vast quantities of water and require about 18 gallons of water daily.

To supplement their huge diet, elephants will dig up earth to obtain salt and minerals. The elephant will use their tusks to churn the ground - the elephant will then place dislodged pieces of soil into its mouth, to obtain extra nutrients. Frequently these areas result in holes that are several feet deep and vital minerals are made accessible to other animals.

Photo of two elephants by Emma-Louisa

Photo Copyright Emma Louisa

An elephant never forgets!

Elephants have an unbelievably good memory. This is because an elephant’s brain can weigh up to 5 kilograms.

Elephants can build up a strong memory over time that allows them to remember friends and enemies. They can also remember places where they have found food and water in the past. Scientists believe elephants' good memories are a big part of how elephants survive and why so many live so long.


An elephant's brain is like a human's brain in both structure and complexity. Elephants can emote grief, can learn to, use tools, and can display levels of self-awareness.


Elephants can show signs of grief when they encounter the remains of other elephants that have died. It's not uncommon for them to touch the dead bodies or bones with their feet or trunks.


Perhaps one of the greatest signs of elephants' intelligence, is the ability to recognize their reflection in a mirror. This is something that only a few of the most intelligent species can do.

Black and White Photo of a herd of elephants drinking Richard-Jacobs

Photo Copyright Richard Jacobs

Why are elephants endangered?

Elephants are one of the world’s most endangered animals. This is because of the desire for ivory and the diminishing habitats for elephants in the wild.

It’s believed that several million African elephants roamed across Africa as recently as the early 20th century, but today only about 350,000 remain. Asian elephants are less common, numbering about 200,000 a century ago, there are now fewer than 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, with both species at a real risk of extinction.

Elephant numbers have declined due to the vast levels of poaching largely fueled by the demand for ivory.

Family of elephants walking down a road

Photo Copyright Red Charlie

Family Day Out by David Dancey-wood

Family Day Out, elephant family.

Limited edition print

from an original drawing by David Dancey-Wood

What is being done to protect elephants?

In order to protect elephants, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banned the international trade of ivory in 1989. However, illegal ivory markets have remained in some countries. Until these markets are firmly shut down, poaching will always leave elephants vulnerable.

The other primary reason why elephant numbers have declined is the loss of the elephant’s habitat. Habitats are increasingly being shrunken and fragmented by agriculture, logging, roads, and development for residential or commercial use. Elephants need vast large, territories, and due to their land being shrunk, this robs them of vital resources like food and water.


Fun facts about elephants

  • An elephant's trunk weighs 400 pounds, but it can pick up things as small as a single grain of rice.

  • Elephants are afraid of bees. Farmers even use beehives to deter elephants from coming onto their land.

  • Elephants can have babies until they're 50 years old.

  • Baby elephants are born blind and can weigh up to 260 pounds when born

  • The oldest known elephant lived to 86 years old

  • Elephants hug trunks to say hello

  • An elephant’s eyelashes can be 5 inches long

  • Elephants can’t jump – they are the only mammals in the world that can’t

  • Elephants use their trunks as snorkels when they swim

  • Elephants yawn!

Article written by Jack Hartman for Wildlife Sketches.

Edited by Vince De Luca

​Collectable Limited Edition Prints and Original Drawings

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