African Elephant

Order Proboscidea
Family Elephantidae
Genus Loxodanta
Species Africana
Height 3.5 metres
Weight Upto 7000kgs
Lifespan Approx 60 years
Habitat Savannah, grasslands


Savanna or Bush Elephant (L.a. african)
Forest Elephant (L.a. cyclotis)

The most obvious difference between African and Asian elephants is the larger size of the African elephants and their larger ears. Also, African elephants have two lips on their trunk, both males and females have tusks, and they have a dip in their back.

Elephants are the largest living land animals, with males standing on average at 4 metres tall, weighing about 6,500 kgs with a body length of 25 feet.

Their trunk, or proboscis is a very sensitive organ used for smelling, handling food and objects, sucking up water and touching. Their food and water is picked, or sucked up using the trunk and then passed into their mouth. They also use their trunks to suck up water to squirt over their bodies to keep them cool. Their trunk is sensitive enough to pick up seeds and powerful enough to lift whole trees.

Their large ears act as a cooling system. The backs of the ears are covered by blood vessels and by flapping their ears elephants can keep their body temperature down.

Elephant’s tusks are large teeth growing from the upper jaw. They use their tusks for feeding such as digging up roots and lifting the bark from trees, as well as for display and as a weapon. Elephants are usually about 2 years of age when their tusks first begin to appear. It is because of their tusks that elephants have been so widely hunted.

Elephants eat grasses, leaves, shrubs and also tree bark, twigs and branches. Each day they will consume about 500 lb of vegetation and drink about 120 litres of water.

They are very sociable animals usually living in herds consisting of cows with their calves, led by the oldest female the matriarch. Some males are part of bachelor herds.

They communicate by sight, sound, smell and touch.

They produce 100 kgs of dung per day

The gestation period is an amazing 22 months.

They drink about 120 litres of water a day.

Apart from their tusks elephants only have 4 molar teeth.

A newborn calf is about 3 feet tall and weighs approx 250lb.



African Elephants

Author: Daryl Balfour, Sharna Balfour
An illustrated guide to the elephants of Africa. Colour photographs display a variety of elephant moods and activity in natural habitats in Africa, highlighting in particular their intelligence and social behaviour.

African Elephants

Author: Reinhard Kunkel
Few wildlife photographers have worked in such close proximity with their subjects, as he notes in some of the wry autobiographical vignettes that open his book. Künkel's 120-plus colour plates capture elephants in all aspects of their daily lives: eating, bathing, travelling, playing, fighting and, well, making other elephants.


Author: Joyce Poole
Paperback - 72 pages (September 1997)
Colin Baxter Photography; ISBN: 1900455307


The African Elephant

Author: Ellen Weiss
This book and diorama set focuses on the world of the African elephant, the intriguing animal of the savanna, with the mother and baby sculptures set against a colour backdrop.

The African Elephant : Twilight in Eden

Author: Roger L. Disilvestro
The African elephant has been hunted to near extinction by ivory poachers, and even now its survival hangs in the balance. With over 125 colour pictures, this is a graphic illustration of the African elephant's complete history of human contact, including many details about elephant society, mating habits, communication, family life and raising young, even death and mourning.

African Elephant Links

Elephant Information Repository
A very useful site with lots of information on elephant lifestyle, behaviour etc aswell as elephant news and conservation information.

Save the Elephants
Conservation organisation involved in research, education, monitoring and protection of elephants.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Conservation organisation dedicated to protecting elephants and rhinos from poaching. Site contains useful information.



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