African Elephants

  • African elephant

    There are two species of African Elephant:

    • African Savanna (or bush) elephant (Loxodonta africana)

      Larger of the two species. Short and wide mandible. Ears are more pointed. Tusks curve outward.

    • African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis)

      Long, narrow mandible. Rounded ears. Straighter and more downward tusks. Considerably smaller.

    African elephants are found south of the Sahara Desert to the southern tip of Africa, from the Atlantic (western) coast of Africa to the Indian Ocean in the east. Habitats vary as they can spend long periods without water. They can be found in deserts, forests, savannas, river valleys and marshes. Forest elephants typically reside in rainforests while savanna elephants are usually found in grasslands. Unlike their Asian counterparts, African elephants are not easily domesticated.

    African elephants face a great threat from loss of habitat. The far less common forest elephant is under threat from logging and killing for meat. As well as ivory poaching, they face conflict with humans when they follow migration corridors that now lead to roads, villages, and crops.

    Physical characteristics of the African elephant

    • Height and Weight

      Male African elephants stand 3.2–4.0 m (10–13 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 4,700–6,048 kg (10,000–13,330 lb), while females elephants stand 2.2–2.6 m (7.2–8.5 ft) tall and weigh 2,160–3,232 kg (4,800–7,130 lb).

    • Ears

      African elephant ears resemble a map of Africa, whereas Asian ones look like the shape of India.

    For more about the differences between species see our article here.