Under natural conditions, elephants eat mostly grass, tree leaves, flowers, wild fruits, twigs, shrubs, bamboo, and bananas.
Their main food is grass when it’s available, along with some leaves.
But if the weather turns dry and grass dies back, they will eat almost any kind of vegetation they can find.
They will knock down trees to eat their foliage. They will even turn to bark and the woody parts of plants.
Also elephants use their tusks to dig for roots. Much of this coarse food passes through their system without being thoroughly digested. They also use their tusks to dig for water, making it available not only to themselves, but also to other types of animals.
One elephant eats between 149 to 169 kgs (330-375 lb.) of vegetation daily.
Sixteen to eighteen hours, or nearly 80% of an elephant’s day is spent feeding. Elephants 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. Tusks are used to carve into the trunk and tear off strips of bark.
Elephants require about 68.4 to 98.8 L (18 to 26 gal.) of water daily, but may consume up to 152 L (40 gal.). An adult male elephant can drink up to 212 L (55 gal.) of water in less than five minutes.
To supplement the diet, elephants will dig up earth to obtain salt and minerals. The tusks are used to churn the ground. The elephant then places dislodged pieces of soil into its mouth, to obtain nutrients.
Frequently these areas result in holes that are several feet deep and vital minerals are made accessible to other animals. For example Over time, African elephants have hollowed out deep caverns in a volcano mountainside on the Ugandan border, to obtain salt licks and minerals.