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African and Asian Elephants

Updated on September 2, 2012

World’s Largest Animal

The world’s largest animal on land is the elephant. The world’s largest animal in the world is also the largest animal in water – which is the blue whale. An elephant has an average weight of about 7 tons. The blue whale has an average weight of about 160 tons. 160 tons is a huge weight for an animal to support itself on land – so, the blue whale has to live in water.

Three Species of Elephants

There are three species of elephants namely:

  1. African bush elephant
  2. African forest elephant
  3. Indian or Asian elephant

African Bush Elephant

The African bush elephant is the largest of all the elephants. The African bush elephant has a length of about 21 feet, height of about 14 feet and a weight of about 7 tons. The largest African bush elephant ever was shot in Angola in 1955 and had a weight of 12 tons. The African bush elephant can reach a top speed of 40 km/h. The African bush elephant is an intelligent animal capable of using seismic vibrations at infrasound frequencies for communication.

African Bush Elephant. Image Credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikimedia Commons.
African Bush Elephant. Image Credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikimedia Commons.

African Forest Elephant

The African forest elephant is commonly found in the forests of Congo basin in Africa. The African forest elephant will usually grow to a height of no more than 8 feet as compared to the height of 14 feet for the African bush elephant.

African Forest Elephant. Image Credit: Thomas Breuer Via Wikipedia
African Forest Elephant. Image Credit: Thomas Breuer Via Wikipedia

Asian Elephant

The Asian elephant is commonly found in Southeast Asia from India, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra. The Asian elephant is slightly smaller than the African bush elephant. The Asian elephant weighs about 5.5 tons and a height of about 8.5 feet. The Asian elephant has never been domesticated but has been tamed or trained to accept human commands for ceremonial purposes and to entertain tourists. Conservationists in Africa are against taming or training of African elephants preferring the elephants to stay wild and in their natural habitats.

Asian Elephant. Image Credit: Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons.
Asian Elephant. Image Credit: Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons.

Differences between African Bush Elephant and African Forest Elephants

(click column header to sort results)
Features  
African Bush elephant  
African Forest Elephant  
mandibles
short and wide mandibles
long and narrow mandibles
ears
more pointed ears
rounded ears
tusks
Ivory is less straight but more curved
More straight and downward tusks
size
Larger in size
Smaller in size
height
More than 12 feet in height
Less than 8 feet in height
toenails
4 toenails on the front foot and 3 on the hind foot
5 toenails on the front foot and 4 on the hind foot
DNA
genetic makeup is more than 50% distinct
genetic makeup is more than 50% distinct
Differences between African Bush Elephant and African Forest Elephants

Differences between African Elephant and Asian Elephant

(click column header to sort results)
features  
Asian elephant  
African bush elephant  
size
Smaller
Larger
Highest body point
On the shoulders
On the back
Ears
Smaller ears with dorsal borders folded laterally
Bigger ears that reach up over the neck
Ribs
20 pairs of ribs and 34 caudal vertebrae
21 pairs of ribs
Toenails
5 toenails on each fore foot, and four on each hind foot
4 toenails on the front foot and 3 on the hind foot
Back
Convex back
Concave back
Tusks
Only males have tusks
Both males and females have tusks
Hair
More hairy
Less hairy
DNA
Genetic makeup is more than 50% distinct
Genetic makeup is more than 50% distinct
Weight
About 5 tons
About 7 tons
Trunk
Fewer rings and the end of trunk has one fingers
More rings and the end of trunk has two fingers
Food
Mainly grass
Mainly leaves
Skin
Smoother
Wrinkled
Differences between African elephant and Asian Elephant

Intelligence of Elephants

Elephants are very intelligence in comparison to other animals though not equal to primates. Elephant behaviors associated with intelligence include grieving, making music, playing, use of tools, compassion and self-awareness. An elephant, just like humans, is able to recognize its own image in a mirror. A dog or a cat can not recognize its own image in a mirror.

An elephant has 28 teeth and the two upper second incisors are actually the tusks.

Comments

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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Elephants ar among my favorite of animals I am really impressed by their intelligence. Thanks for a superb Hub. Voted up!

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      great hub and thanks for detailed information on asian and african elephants. voted up

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