The elephant is one of the most easily recognisable animals in the whole wide world. African elephants and Asian elephants are true gentle giants. Many of us have seen them in zoos, and some of us have even been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them in their natural habitats. A gentle giant of nature, the elephant is a truly amazing creature, that without the help of conservationists and charities, could be completely wiped out within a matter of decades. The sad truth is that their habitats are being crushed to make way for infrastructure projects, and poachers are still taking aim to at these beautiful beasts to meet the demands of the illegal ivory trade.
Despite their huge size, African elephants are still smaller than the heaviest animal in the world. To find that animal, you’ll have to look to the sea. The water in the oceans of the world helps to support the incredible weight of the blue whale. With a length of up to 100 feet (30 meters) from head to tail, the largest blue whales can weigh in excess of 400,000 pounds (181,437 kilograms)! Just imagine how small you’d feel swimming next to that creature!
An African Elephants neck is quite high and slopes down towards its straight back. African elephants are more wrinkled and have much larger ears than the Asian elephant. In contrast to the Asian elephants protruding forehead, the African elephants forehead is flat without any bumps and slopes down smoothly towards its trunk. Their underlip is short, broad and rounded and both female and male African elephants have tusks which are thick and curved forward. African elephants are also larger in size as compared to male and female Asian elephants.
General Elephant Facts
Did you know that the word “Elephant” is actually latin for “huge Arch”? These animals certainly are huge and impressive beasts. In fact, the elephant is the largest living land mammal in the world A male elephant can grow up to 4 metres in height and weigh up to 7 tonnes; whilst their females counterparts can still weigh in at a mere 3.5 tonnes.
To feed an animal of such gigantic proportions takes a lot of food. Their daily food intake is almost as much as 4-7% of their body weight. When you are an elephant, that equates to finding and eating an awful lot of food. As you would expect, all that food needs to be digested and dozed off, which is why our elephant friends can deposit upwards of 150 kg of dung daily
Elephants are herbivores and only eat grasses, herbs, fruit, plants and trees. Their healthy, vegetarian diet is obviously good for them as the average elephant has a life span of around 70 odd years, a bit like we do
Despite their size, they are actually pretty nimble and can walk up to 195 km per day, although they usually only average is only 25 km on a daily basis. They can also run faster than you would expect, easily reaching speeds of 40 mph, which is a lot faster than us humans can run.
Where once elephants roamed across the whole of Africa, they are now limited to conservation areas and the Savannah. African and Asian elephants can currently be found in 37 African countries, and across 13 Asian countries.
Most people believe that there are only two species of elephant in the word, but in fact there are three:
- African savannah, Loxodonta africana
- African forest, Loxodonta cyclotis
- Asian, Elephas maximus
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.).
Where Do Elephants Come From?
There are three species of elephants in the world, and where each one can be found depends on the species. In Africa, there are two species of elephant. The loxodonta africana African elephant lives in the African Savannah and in the Sahel desert in Mali. This is the biggest species of elephant in the world. The slightly smaller loxodonta cyclotis African elephant lives in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. Where once elephants roamed across the whole of Africa, they are now limited to conservation areas and the Savannah. African and Asian elephants can currently be found in 37 African countries, and across 13 Asian countries. The elephas maixmus species of elephant (Asian elephant) can be found in Nepal, India and Southeast Asia in scrub forests and rain forests.
How Many Elephants Are There In Africa And Why Are African Elephants Endangered?
There are now only an estimated 400,000 African elephants left in the wild. African elephants are endangered largely owing to man’s greed for ivory which had to elephants being hunted and killed for their valuable tusks. To give you an idea of just how many elephants are lost to the ivory trade, in the 1970’s there were 1.3 million elephants. Less than a third of that number are now left. African Forest Elephants living in the forests of the Basin are at the greatest risk from the threat of poachers than any other species and their numbers continue to steadily decline.
Moreover, humans are responsible for huge habit loss of African elephants. As the human population in Africa increases, more and more land is converted to agriculture. A smaller habit has meant that elephants and humans are coming into contact with one another more than they did historically, and this is causing conflict. Elephants are very intelligent creature and sometimes raid farmers’ crop for food. This can lead to both humans and elephants being killed in the conflict.
How Much Does The Average Elephant Weigh?
African elephants are the largest land animals in the world today. The average African elephant will weigh between 5,000 to 14,000 lbs. (2,268 to 6,350 kg), according to the National Geographic. However, the largest African elephant ever recorded was found in Angola, rocking in at a massive 24,000 lb (11,000 kg). Male elephants can grow to be significantly larger than their female counterparts. Still a mighty animal, female elephants, or “Cows”, only grow to weigh from 6,000 to 8,000 pounds. Asian elephants tend to be a smaller than their African counterparts, weighing between 4,400 to 11,000 Ibs (2,000 to 5,000 kg).
How Tall Is An Elephant?
African elephants are the largest land animals in the world today. The average African elephant will grow to between 8.2 to 13 feet (2.5 to 4 m) tall, measured from shoulder to toe, according to the National Geographic. Male elephants can grow to be significantly larger than their female counterparts. Still a mighty animal, female elephants, or “Cows”, only grow to somewhere between 9 and 13 feet.
Asian elephants are smaller and tend to reach a shoulder height of between 6.6 and 11.5 feet (2 and 3.5 m) tall.
How Intelligent Are Elephants?
Elephants are the world’s largest land mammals – and, aside from the great apes (humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans) – the most intelligent.
How Much Does A Baby Elephant Weigh?
Baby elephants weigh around 100kg on average, heavier than most adult men, and some newborns have been as large as 120kg. Those are figures for Africa bush elephants – baby elephants of other species are naturally smaller.
What Is A Baby Elephant Called?
Baby elephants are called calves.
What Do African Elephants Eat?
Elephants are herbivores and only eat grasses, herbs, fruit, plants and trees.
How Much Does An Elephant Eat A Day?
Elephants are gigantic animals and this means that they need to find an eat an awful lot of food. Their daily food intake is almost as much as 4-7% of their body weight. African elephants can eat as much as 330 Ibs (150 kg) of food a day.
Threats To Survival
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.