African and Asian elephants are two distinct species, which belong to separate genera.  They are generally similar in size, appearance, physiology, and social behavior (Eltringham 1982; McKay 1973).  The African elephant is the largest land mammal with the Asian elephant coming in as a close second. Males are larger than females, and both sexes continue to grow throughout their entire lives. Some of the most unique features of both species of elephant are the ears, tusks, trunk, and feet.

The elephant is the largest land animal on the planet. There are three kinds of elephants with scientist recently splitting the African elephant into two distinct species. The three elephant species are African savanna (or bush), African forest and Asian elephant. Let’s take a look at all three to see how much these giant creatures weigh.

African elephants can range from 5,000 pounds to more than 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms). According to the World Wildlife Fund, an average African elephant weighs about 12,000 pounds (5,443 kilograms). Even a baby African elephant can weigh between 200-300 pounds (90.7-136 kilograms) at birth!

Characteristics Of A Female Elephants

Both the African and Asian elephant have trunks.  The trunk is an elongated nose, the upper lip and nose combined.  The elephant uses its trunk to breathe, explore its environment, communicate to and about conspecifics, pick up, push, carry, and to drink water or give itself a shower of water, mud, or dirt.  It is essential to the survival of the elephant (although some elephants are able to successfully adapt their feeding and drinking behavior after severe trunk injuries).  The tip of the trunk of the African elephant has two finger-like projections while the Asian elephant’s trunk tip has only one.

The feet of both species of elephants are round with a large circumference in relation to the legs. The elephant’s weight rests on a pad, which cushions the toes.  This pad grows continuously and is worn down by the natural movement of the elephant. The number of toenails on both species of elephants appears to vary from individual (Csuti et al. 2001, Eltringham 1982).  Typically Asian elephants have five toenails on each forefoot and four on each hindfoot. The African elephant has four toenails on each forefoot and three or four on each hindfoot.

Populations of both elephant species continue to decline in the wild. Human encroachment, habitat loss, and poaching pose major threats to the extant populations.  Conflicts are frequent as the population of humans increases and suitable habitat for elephants decreases. Human or elephant fatalities are often the result.

Elephants are non-ruminant herbivores. They do not chew cud, ruminate or belch as ruminant animals (e.g. cattle, bison, goats, deer) do. Instead they produce methane gas – LOTS AND LOTS OF GAS. Properly equipped, a car could travel 20 miles on the amount of methane produced by one elephant in a single day.

Behavior Of A Female Elephants

In recent years, a significant amount of information regarding the social structure of wild African elephants has been published.  This information has painted a fairly complete picture of the social nature of elephants in Africa.  Less information is available on the Asian elephant, as their social behavior is much more difficult to observe due to their fewer numbers and habitat of dense forests.  Based on limited existing data, indications are that some of the social behavior of the Asian elephant appears to be similar to that of the African elephant.

Female elephants are social animals, spending much of their time rearing calves.  In the wild, the African elephant family unit averages five to eight females and their offspring, although there are large variations in family size.  The Asian elephant family unit appears to be smaller and less cohesive.  Most females stay within the family group into which they were born, splintering into smaller subgroups when the family becomes too large. Family groups make up clans that fluctuate in size as family segments come and go, often depending on the availability of food and water.

Threats To Survival Of An Elephants

Poaching for the illegal ivory trade is the biggest threat to African elephants’ survival. Before the Europeans began colonizing Africa, there may have been as many as 26 million elephants. By the early 20th century, their numbers had dropped to 10 million. Hunting continued to increase. By 1970, their numbers were down to 1.3 million. Between 1970 and 1990, hunting and poaching put the African elephant at risk of extinction, reducing its population by another half.

How Much Does A Female Elephant Weigh?

African elephants are the largest of all land animals, adult males weighing between 1,800 and 6,300 kg (2 and 7 tons/ 4,000 and 14,000 lb.). Females are smaller, weighing between 2,700 and 3,600 kg (3 and 4 tons/ 6,000 and 8,000 lb.). Shoulder height ranges between three and four m (9.8 and 13.1 ft.).

Adult male Asian elephants weigh between 1,800 and 4,500 kg (2 and 5 tons/ 4,000 and 10,000 lb.), with females weighing slightly less. Shoulder height ranges between 2 and 3.5 m (6.6 and 11.5 ft.).

How Much Does An Elephant Weigh?

The largest male elephants can weigh up to 15,000 pounds (6,800 kilograms). For comparison, an average male human weighs about 180 pounds (82 kilograms). How much do elephants weigh at birth? African elephants can weigh up to nearly 200 pounds when born!

What Is The Smallest Species Of Elephant?

The Borneo elephant, also known as the Bornean pygmy elephant, is the smallest species of elephant by size. Found in Asia, adult Bornean pygmy elephants stand at less than 5 feet (1.5 meters) high. These elephants can weigh up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms).

Can An Elephant Go For Days Without Water?

Although elephants have large and thick bodies with little fat covering ideal for storing water, elephants are highly dependent on water sources. Even the desert elephant, suited for dry climates, can only go a maximum of 3 days without water. Just behind the tongue of an elephant is a small pouch called the pharyngeal pouch. This area, most commonly used by elephants to make a deep rumbling sound for communication, can store about a gallon of water. Elephants will also use their feet, trunks, and tusks to dig large holes in dry riverbeds and reach water sources.

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