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What are the differences between African and Asian elephants

differences between African and Asian elephants

Three classes of proboscides are known (order of placental mammals, which includes elephants). Two live in the African continent: the Loxodonta cyclotis(forest elephant) and the African Lexodonta(savanna elephant), but both are grouped as African elephants, since they differ only in size. The third species is the Elephas maximus or Asian elephant or Indian elephant (although it is in more Asian countries), the largest mammal in Asia.

These elephants are the largest terrestrial animals and mammals on Earth, only surpassed by the blue whale , but there are subtle differences between them. In this article you will learn about the differences between African and Asian elephants .


African elephant and Asian habitat

One of the primary differences between these animals is their habitat.

African elephant habitat

The African elephants extend their habitat throughout the African continent , except the north and the desert. These animals are continuously moving through the jungle or forest and the Savannah and travel long distances in search of water and food.

Asian elephant habitat

On the contrary, the Asian elephant is concentrated in a few points of Southeast Asia , in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Borneo, Sumatra or Bangladesh. However, many centuries ago these elephants extended further north, reaching China, but with the passage of time have been relegated to other territories by the destruction of their habitat and hunting.


Differences between African and Asian elephants: the size

The African elephant is the largest terrestrial animal , measuring up to 3.5 meters high and almost 7 meters long and weighing between 5 and 6 tons.

For its part, the Asian elephant is somewhat smaller, reaching 2 meters in height and weighing up to 5 tons. Asian elephants are also large animals, but not as much as African.


Fangs and trunk different

There are differences in the size of the tusks between both species, so in the African elephant, both the females and the males have long ivory tusks and in the Asian elephant only the males show fangs, while in the females they do not grow at all and They are usually small in size.

Another big difference between the two elephants is the final section of their trunk, in the trunk of the Asian elephant has a movable lobe , while the African has two . Therefore, the African elephant’s trunk looks like a hand and makes it easier to grab objects. Both types of elephants move and grab objects to bring them to the mouth with both types of tubes without problems. They also collect water to drink.


The ears of African and Asian elephants are different

The ears of the Asian elephant are rounded and small in comparison to its body, which barely cover the entire head. In contrast, the ears of the African elephant are larger and reach them more behind the shoulders.

The reason for this difference can be found in the use: African elephants use the ears to dissipate body heat and use them as a fan, since on the African continent they live in more extreme conditions than in Asia.


The shape of your shoulders and back

Another difference that not many people know about these two large mammals is in the back and shoulders. In the Asian elephant the back is arched , so that its back is the highest part of its body. On the contrary, the African elephant has a more straight and descending back from the shoulders. Behind his head is the highest area of ??his back, which can even give the impression of being sunken.

The legs and tail of Asian and African elephants

The main difference in the legs of the African and Asian elephants is in their fingers: the African elephant has 4 or 5 fingers on the front legs and 3 on the back, while the Asian has 5 on the front and 4 on the back .

The tail is very similar in the two species, so it is not easy to differentiate them just for this. The Asian elephant has the longest tail in relation to the body than the African.


State of conservation of elephants

African and Asian elephants are in danger of extinction . The two species are in danger due mainly to the following main causes:

  • Poaching , since it kills them to use the ivory of their fangs.
  • Another threat to their conservation is the destruction of their habitat, either to create pastures for livestock or to build housing for people.
  • The global pollution.


Similarities between African and Asian elephants

Finally, we would also like to mention some of the main similarities of African elephants and Asians :

  • Both species are the largest mammals that inhabit the earth on our planet.
  • They are intelligent and sociable animals .
  • Both species live in groups , but are also sociable with other animals.
  • As far as their intelligence is concerned, the “elephant memory” is known, since they are capable of remembering specific people and animals, individuals, and places.
  • What the elephants eat of these two species is also a similarity, since both are herbivores and eat large amounts of vegetation daily.



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