Common facts about Elephants

The family Elephantidae which means the elephant is the largest ground animal in the world. Elephants mostly live in the woods and grasslands. With a large body, they have a distinctive physical appearance like having a trunk, large ears, and tusks. They feed on plant leaves, fruits, woody parts of trees, and shrubs. Elephants can be classified into two species; Asian elephants and African elephants.

How many African elephant species are there?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List conservation review recently recovered the African elephant into two distinct species, the African forest elephant and the African savanna elephant.

Differences between the African elephants and Asian elephants

Elephants in Asia and Africa can be distinguished by their ears, head, and tusks. Let’s see their ears to identify the differences between these two forms.

Size and shape of ears

African elephants have significantly larger ears that resemble the African continent, whereas Asian elephants have smaller, round ears.

The shape of the Head

Asian and African elephants have unique head shapes that distinguish them apart. African elephants have rounder skulls, but Asian elephants have a twin-domed head with a divot line running up the back of the head.

Presence or absence of tusk

An elephant tusk is an extended tooth that is grown out of the mouth. This structure is used for many purposes, such as the protection of an elephant’s trunk; gathering food; lifting and moving items, and peeling bark off trees. They can also be used for defense and even digging holes to find water beneath the ground during a drought.

Tusks may be seen on both male and female African elephants, but only male Asian elephants may develop them.

There are several more differences between the two species of elephants, including skin texture, size, and trunk characteristics.

Nature of the Trunk

The trunk of an elephant is an outgrowth of the top lip and nose. It has the ability to grab, lift, breathe, smell, produce sound, and even for defense purposes. At the tip of their trunk, there are projections called fingers. These finger-like projections include numerous sensitive nerve endings and may perform fine motor skills such as grabbing tiny objects.

Their trunks are likewise highly distinctive, with the African elephant trunk having two distinct ‘fingers.’ At the end of its trunk, the Asian elephant possesses only one ‘finger.’

Body size of the Elephant

When you consider the size of these forms, African savanna elephants are about 8,000 kg or 9 tons and Asian elephants weigh 5,500 kg or about 6 tons.

The African elephant grows highest at the shoulder, whereas the Asian elephant grows tallest at the back.

Skin texture

Let’s see their skin texture carefully, you can observe more cracks on the skin of an African elephant, that was recently discovered to hold water because it helps to keep the animals cool and prevent dehydration in their dry habitats. Asian elephants have smoother skin than the African elephant.

Threats to Elephant

The population of African and Asian elephants continuously decreasing due to the reasons of habitat fragmentation and hunting.

According to the red data book, The African forest elephant is currently considered Critically Endangered, whereas the African savanna elephant is considered Endangered.

Every organism in an ecosystem has a right to live in its habitat. As humans, we must consider the value of their life.

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Anuradhika Lakmali

Anuradhika Lakmali is a co-founder of Science A Plus learning network. She is working as a government teacher and has interest in chemistry, biology, phisics and self development.