Elk, also known as Wapiti, is a species of deer that belongs to the Elk genus of the Deeridae family. It is estimated to be around two to three million years old and has been classified into five species by zoologists. The only species that still exists today is the Da's species.
Elk is a large herbivorous mammal with a body length ranging from 150-200 cm and a tail length of 60-75 cm. Male elks have a shoulder height of 122-137 cm while females are slightly smaller, standing at 70-75 cm. Their weight ranges from 120-180 kg, with adult males reaching up to 250 kg.
In summer, the coat of the elk is a rusty red with a black longitudinal stripe on the nape. After September, the coat changes to a longer, thicker, and grayish winter coat.
Elk has a strong neck and back, a large head with a narrow and long snout, small eyes, and prominent infraorbital glands. Its limbs are thick, and its hoofs are broad and fleshy, connected by skin aponeurosis to prevent sinking in swampy areas.
Elk is known for the loud clacking sound it makes when walking, similar to that of reindeer and white-lipped deer. The newborn pups are orange with white spots and the tail is long, with grayish-black fuzz and a yellowish-white ventral surface, serving as a defense against mosquitoes and flies in swampy environments.
Male elks have antlers, which are unique among deer species, as they can reach up to 80 cm in length. Unlike other deer, the antlers grow vertically instead of obliquely, with a front main branch followed by smaller branches, and a long hind branch.
The antlers usually shed from November to December each year and start to grow again from May to June of the following year. Some individuals even shed their antlers twice a year.
Elk are known for their good nature and gregarious behavior, as well as their ability to swim. They feed mainly on grasses, moss, and young leaves, and in captivity, their diet consists of three parts: fine grain, coarse grain, and fruits and vegetables.
Elk are social animals that form herds. During the mating season, males become very territorial and will engage in intense battles for dominance and access to female mates.
This is a time when the antlers are put to use as weapons, and the male elks will lock antlers and try to push each other until one concedes. After the mating season, the male elks will shed their antlers and regrow them for the next season.
Elk have a wide range of habitats and can be found in forests, meadows, and tundras. In North America, elk can be found in the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and other areas with large open spaces and plenty of vegetation.
In Europe and Asia, they can be found in forests and meadows. Elk are also very adaptable and can survive in a variety of environments, including harsh mountain terrains and wetlands.
Elk are an important species in many cultures, serving as a source of food, clothing, and materials for weapons, tools, and jewelry. In North America, elk hunting is a popular sport, and elk populations are carefully managed by wildlife agencies to maintain healthy populations and prevent over-harvesting.
Elk populations have faced many challenges over the years, including habitat loss, disease, and overhunting. In the early 20th century, elk populations in North America have severely depleted due to hunting and habitat loss. Conservation efforts have been successful in restoring elk populations, and today, elk populations are healthy and continue to thrive.
In conclusion, elk are fascinating and important animals that have been part of the earth's ecosystem for millions of years. Their adaptability, social behavior, and importance to human culture make them a species worth learning about and preserving.
Whether it is through hunting, conservation, or simply appreciating their beauty in the wild, elk will continue to play an important role in our world for generations to come.