African Elephant Facts - Elephants For Africa (2024)

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

What is elephant dung and how much does elephant poop weigh?
Much of the grasses and plants that elephants eat aren’t actually digested by elephants so this simply comes out in their dung. In fact, because of this, some animals like monkeys and dung beetles actually eat elephant dung!
And there’s plenty of it around. Our elephant friends can deposit upwards of 150 kg of dung daily! Eew!

How do elephants have sex?
Female elephants are generally ready to become a mum at around 15-16 years old. A male can tell when a female is ready to mate from the chemical signs she leaves in her urine and faeces. This, combined with the characteristic calls of that time, ensures that all the local males will know when the time is right to compete for her affections.
Female elephants must have a thing for the older man, as males do not come into their prime until they are between 30-35 years of age. Around this time, they experience period of “musth”. Musth is a periodic condition in bull elephants that is characterised by highly aggressive behaviour and is accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones.
Rumour has it that elephants mate for life. Whilst this is not necessarily true, animal scientist have proven that they will never stray far from mating partners.

How do elephants give birth?
Like other mammals, female elephants give birth to fairly developed babies via her birth canal.
An elephant pregnancy lasts around 22 months, meaning that new born baby elephants are not small! A baby elephant is called a calf and can weigh between 200 and 300 lbs and stand about 3 feet (1 m) tall.

How many babies do elephants have?
Typically, elephants only give birth to one calf at a time, although twins do sometimes occur. In her lifetime (elephants can live for up to 70 years in the wild!), a female elephant can give birth to as many as 12 calves.
Not as many as babies you might think? Well that’s because the average gestation (pregnancy) period for a female elephant is a whopping 22 months. That’s a long time!

How many teeth do elephants have?
Elephants usually have 26 teeth at any one time. Throughout their lives, elephants have six sets of teeth that grow one set after another. By the time they reach their 50's, most elephant have started to use their final set which is needed to last for the rest of their life.

Why do elephants flap their ears?
African elephants are famous for their very large ears. They are designed this way to pump blood around them to help cool the elephant down under the hot African sun. The more the ears flap, the hotter the elephant is.

How thick is elephant skin?
The skin of an elephant can be up to 2.5 cm thick in places. Despite this, elephants have very sensitive skin and use mud and dust baths to protect their skin from burning in the sun, and to get rid of skin parasites.

How far do elephants walk in a day?
Despite their massive size, elephants 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.

How much does an elephant's brain weigh?
Elephants are extremely intelligent creatures and an elephant’s brain can weigh as much as 4-6 kg. No wonder they say that an elephant never forgets!

How long is an elephant's trunk?
An elephant’s trunk is usually around 6 feet in length, but can be up to 7 feet long. The trunk alone can weigh as much as 140 kg and can hold 12 litres of water.

How fast do elephants run?
Elephants can run faster than you would expect, easily reaching speeds of 40 mph - a lot faster than us humans can run!

African Elephant Facts - Elephants For Africa (2024)
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