Ready for some interesting African elephant facts?



Is it a fact that the African elephant is a highly social African animal?

Yes - African elephants are indeed very social.

The basic stable social unit among African elephants is a group of closely related adult females with their young of various ages.


elephant facts


The movements of a family group are directed by the oldest and biggest cow (often referred to as the matriarch) This would be a female that have accumulated her necessary experience over 30 to 40 years.

This female will make most of the decisions about where and when the herd forages, drinks and rests.

If these old cows are shot during elephant hunting their knowledge is lost and the rest of the group will wander aimlessly.


facts about elephants

African elephant fast facts

Diet: Herbivore that eats any plant material like grass, forbs, the leaves, branches, bark and roots of trees.

Potential life span in the wild: Up to 60 years

Size: Height at the shoulder, 8.2 to 13 ft (2.5 to 4 m)

Weight: 5,000 to 14,000 lbs (2,268 to 6,350 kg)

Group name: Herd

Protection status:  Red data book classification is "Out of danger"


Males sometimes form small unstable bachelor groups.

Two or three younger apprentices known as askaris may accompany an old male.

Family groups and males may gather into herds several hundred strong.

If their usual food and water supplies dwindle elephants will move long distances to reach more favorable conditions.

The members of an African elephant family group take good care of one another. If one of them is sick or injured others will stay with it to defend it.

The calves get especially close attention. The adults help them climb steep banks and will protect them from predators.


How dangerous is a charging elephant?

If an elephant goes on a serious charge it is quite capable of killing rhino and hippo, and of wrecking vehicles.

Would you be able to tell the mock charge from an elephant from a serious charge?



How do elephants use their trunks?

facts about elephant trunks

The trunk is essentially a modified nose made of muscle.

The elephant trunk serves it as an extremely skillful and yet enormously powerful two-fingered hand.

The trunk alone contains about 100,000 different muscles.

With this tool an elephant can do things from picking up single seedpods to tearing down massive trees.

An elephant drinks water by sucking 4 liters of water into its trunk and then emptying it down its throat.

It is believed that an elephant can distinguish smells several hundred times better than any dog with its trunk.

The trunk is also used to suck up dust and sand to blow over itself.

In addition the trunk is an important means of communication by touch and smell.

The trunk is important for social interactions among the herd individuals and used for caressing - especially between mother and calf.

Other social interactions may include greeting and demonstrations of dominance or submission via various trunk postures.


What does an elephant use its tusks for?

facts about elephant tuskss

The tusks are used for:

  • digging,
  • for chiseling the bark off trees,
  • and as weapons of defense against predators or
  •  for fighting (among males).

The tusks are the upper incisor teeth and they grow throughout the life of the elephant .

Each elephant uses the one tusk more than the other (similar to being left or right handed in humans).

The favored tusk will get worn down more than the other as the enamel wears off.

Elephant tusks never stop growing.

Older elephants will therefor have the biggest tusks which makes them the priority targets of ivory poachers.


Is there really such a thing such as elephant graveyards?

Elephants show an unexplained fascination with their dead.

They have been recorded as showing an apparent fascination for elephant bones and ivory, picking them up in their trunks, and scattering them over a wide area.

Why they behave like this is unknown.

However the believe that elephants go to special elephant graveyards to die is a myth.

The accumulation of bones and tusks around water holes where starving elephants have congregated during droughts can lead to a higher than usual percentage of accumulated elephant remains.

This could be a reason for the initial myth that such an area would be a place where elephants go to die.


What are the differences between the African and Asian species of elephants?

Asian elephants

African elephant

difference between African and Asian elephants

Crumpled from the front to the back.

Notice the humped area on the top

of the head.

The forehead is dented.

Convex or straight neck.

Weighs 3000 - 6000 kg.


Not crumpled from the front to the back.

No humped area on the top.

Forehead is not dented.

Concave neck.

Weighs 4000 - 7000 kg.

Also notice ----

The African elephants have extremely large ears that can be likened to the shape of the African content.

Similarly the smaller Asian elephant ears can be compared to the shape of the Indian subcontinent.

In the case of the African specie both males and females have visible tusks.

With the Asian specie only males have obvious external tusks.

The females have small tusks that may or may not protrude far enough to be visible.

The Asian specie has one semi-prehensile "finger" to its trunk while the African specie has two of them.


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How much does a baby African elephant weigh?

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