20 Top Facts About African Elephants You Never Knew

Do you know that African elephants can walk immediately when they are born but they are actually blind? They are also the largest land animal on Earth.

As you read on, you’d learn surprising facts about these amazing creatures and why they are so important in the ecosystem.

These fascinating giants are of two kinds; The Savanna (bush ) elephant and the Forest elephant. They also play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of their ecosystems.

So in this article, we shall uncover some amazing facts about African elephants from their habitat, to their behaviors down to their importance as well as conservation problems.

 Let’s Begin!

What is the African Elephant?

African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are a little bit more gigantic than the Asian elephants. While the Asian elephants have smaller rounded ears, the African elephants have a larger ear.

The African elephants are divided into two; Savanna elephants(bush) and forest elephants. Sadly,  these elephants are on the verge of extinction.

The Savanna elephants, also known as bush elephants are the larger ones and move about the plains of sub-Saharan Africa while the forest elephants are the smaller ones that reside within the forest of central and West Africa.

Additionally, African elephants are vital species, that is, they play a key role in their ecosystem. They also shape their environment in many ways. For instance, when it’s dry season, they use their tusks to dig up dry riverbeds and as such proliferating holes for many animals so they can drink from there.

Still in line to help their ecosystem, their dung is full of seeds, helping plants disperse across the environment and it makes a good habitat for dung beetles as well.

20 Amazing Facts About African Elephants 

  • Trunks and tusks
  • Size of an Elephant
  • Weight of an African Elephant
  • An Elephant’s Huge Ears
  • The Differences Between Forest and Bush Elephants
  • Diet
  • Herds
  • Can Elephants Run Fast?
  • Can Elephants Swim?
  • Where Do African Elephants Reside?

1. Trunks and tusks

Elephants love water and as such, take pleasure in taking self showers by taking in water into their trunks and spraying it all over their body. They frequently follow up by dusting their skin with a layer of protection.

The trunk of an elephant is basically a long nose and they use it for perceiving things, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, as well as to grab objects, especially possible meals.

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 There are around 40,000 muscles in the trunk alone. African elephants can pick up small objects with the help of two finger-like projections on the end of their trunk. Meanwhile, elephants in Asia only have one trunk.

While the trunk is basically used for drinking and breathing, the trunk is majorly used as a defense tool, digging roots and taking other bark of trees specifically for food.

2. Size of an Elephant

The African Bush Elephants are the largest land animals on earth. They have the tallest record of 4.21 meters(i.e., 13 feet 9 inches). The  African forest elephant, however, is not as big as the bush elephants and they are shorter than them also. 

The reason is that the African forest elephants are shorter so they can be able to pass through the forests with ease.

So after the African bush elephant as the first largest, the white rhino and hippopotamus are the second and third heaviest terrestrial mammals, respectively.

3. Weight of an African Elephant

A mature elephant can weigh up to 6 tonnes (6,000 kilograms). The largest elephant ever observed stood 3.9 meters tall and weighed 10 tonnes. An African wild elephant typically weighs between 5000 and 6000 kilos. 

4. An Elephant’s Huge Ears

Due to the way African heat can be sometimes, the ear of elephants emits heat and helps to keep them cool. They do this by flapping their ear.

The Savannah regions where African elephants reside are extremely hot for much of the year. Elephants, in addition to being quite large, require the efficient cooling mechanism that the enormous ears offer

5. The Differences Between Forest and Bush Elephants

The African Forest elephants have generally straight (flat) backs, but the African Bush elephants are a little bit curved. Also, the color of the forest elephant is darker than the bush elephant.

Additionally, you will be able to tell that African Forest Elephants have far more fur than Savannah Elephants if you can see the skin (that is if using binoculars). 

Another difference is in their tusk. The African Bush elephant has tusks that curve outward and point forward, while the forest elephant’s tusks point downward. The forest elephant can easily walk through the dense jungle thanks to its tusks’ downward orientation.

Now, you can tell the difference between the both of them, right?

Let’s forge ahead!

6. Diet

These elephants consume bark, grasses, fruits, and roots. They consume a whole lot of food in a day. More than you can imagine.

These insatiable animals spend little time sleeping and can travel long distances in search of the huge amounts of food needed to maintain their size.

Typically, a  day’s worth of food for an elephant can weigh up to 450 kilos. Each day, an elephant consumes about 180 liters (50 gallons) of water. 

Even though they eat a lot of food, their digestive system isn’t very effective. A typical elephant consumes food and digests about 40% of it before passing the rest through their system.

7. Herds

Elephants live in female-dominated groups (which is known as matriarchal society). 

Typically, the matriarch is the oldest and largest. She is the head of a herd that spans several generations and consists of other females known as cows and their offspring. 

Adult males, known as bulls, often forage alone and may form smaller, looser-knit all-male groups.

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A baby elephant requires a significant investment. Elephants give birth over the longest period of time of any mammal—almost 22 months. 

Every two to four years, cows typically give birth to one calf. Elephants weigh roughly 200 pounds and are about three feet tall at birth.

8. Can Elephants Run Fast?

You might think they can’t carry their body because of their size right? 

Well, quite the contrary, the elephants can run fast. In fact, they are capable of running up to 40 kph (25mph). Mind you that a human can run at a speed of 45 km/h just a little bit quicker than the elephant.

However, it’s safe to say that an elephant will be able to run faster than the majority of us who don’t run frequently.

9. Can Elephants Swim?

Absolutely!. As stated before, elephants love water, so it’s not surprising that they are very excellent swimmers. Their large body aids the elephant in floating while their legs help them to move in any direction they want.

Also, these elephants can extend their trunk and can use it as a snorkel for breathing. That Is why they can significantly swim for longer lengths.

African Elephants have been known to swim across water bodies for 6 hours [non-stop] and cover a distance of around 50 kilometers.

10. Where Do African Elephants Reside?

Just as the name implies, they are majorly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can also find African elephants in the following countries; Uganda, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries in Eastern and Western Africa.

11. How Many Elephants Make Up a Whole Herd?

Elephants live in herds that might have anywhere between 8 and 100 members. Elephant families are made up of adult cows, their daughters, and their subadult boys. The matriarch, or older cow, is the leader of each herd.

Large family groupings of bush elephants can be encountered, and they are more sociable. Given the abundance of predators in the savannah, this is crucial for safety reasons.

The herd sizes of forest elephants are smaller. This might be a result of less predator threat in their habitat.

12. Are Elephants Intelligent?

Elephants are indeed highly intelligent. They have this in common with people, apes, and some dolphin species. Elephant brain morphology is quite close to human brain morphology.

The elephant’s brains measure more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) in weight. It is understandable why people compliment them for having the best memories.

13. How Often Do Elephants Give Birth?

A female elephant reaches sexual maturity between the ages of 10 and 12 and can begin giving birth up until the age of 45. 

Elephants mature at the age of 12, but the best reproductive years are after 25.

An elephant’s reproductive cycle lasts between three and six years. This indicates that by then it will have borne 7 children.

14. What is the Gestation Period of An Elephant?

An elephant’s pregnancy lasts for 22 months. This time frame is thought to be shorter in some Asian elephant species, at 18 months.

 However, all African elephants give birth after a 22-month gestation period. The average newborn elephant (calf) weighs about 90 kilograms (200 pounds). 

Elephants lose their sight as they age and are born blind. However, a newborn elephant calf is already capable of walking. All the more mature females in the herd take care of and raise an elephant calf.

15. What is The Lifespan Of Elephants?

Elephants may reach the age of 70. Around the age of 60 to 70, the majority of elephants pass away naturally.

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Due to tooth loss, malnutrition accounts for the majority of this natural elephant death. The elephant will eventually starve to death if its teeth are worn out.

16. Do Elephants Possess Exceptional Hearing?

Elephants do have excellent hearing. As a matter of fact, an elephant can hear the call of another elephant from 4 km away thanks to its large ears and highly developed hearing organs on the soles of its feet.

Additionally, elephants use two different vocalizations to communicate, one of which we can hear with our own ears and the other of which we are unable to. 

This vocalization that we can’t hear, sometimes referred to as “supersonic,” is used to communicate over much greater distances.

17. Do Elephants Have Feelings?

We might think these creatures are mean because of their look and body. Elephants are, in fact, incredibly emotional animals.

They attempt to give hugs with their trunks because they can sense how other elephants are feeling.

 An elephant will occasionally give a hug to a different species or to the animal’s caregiver (at the zoo) as a sign of love and compassion.

Elephants have a wide range of behaviors, including the ability to feel grief, learn, mimic, use tools, remember, be self-aware, and potentially even speak. By doing so, they are further linked to other intellectual species like primates, to which we all belong. 

18. Are Elephants Trunks Essential When Eating?

Of course! Just as how our hands are important to use for eating, that’s how their trunk is necessary too. Their trunk aids them in removing leaves and branches from trees by dragging and shredding them off.

Their trunk can also be used as a fork by lifting grasses and fruits that are on the ground to the mouth.

19. Do Elephants Possess Teeth?

Absolutely! Elephants possess teeth. They have four molars. However, they can become worn out and lose it over time.

Also, Elephants will not be able to consume food once they lose all their teeth and at that point, they will starve to death.

20. What Percentage of (African) Elephants are Still in Existence?

Around 400,000 African elephants are thought to still exist today. The largest populations are found in protected regions, where government enforcement of laws protecting their environment is strong.

The Need For Conservation Of The African Elephants

African Elephants are very important in the ecosystem, they are also known as natural gardeners. They help renew the forest and in the dispersal of seeds.

So there is a high need of preserving these animals. These elephants are poached for their ivory(which is gotten from their tusks) and they are also losing their habitat because of human activities.

If these activities are not lessened, they can become highly endangered and eventually go to extinction.


Now you know the amazing facts about elephants that make them so interesting. It’s so fascinating to know more about other land creatures and how important they are to the earth as well as their vital roles in the ecosystem.

Hope you found this article interesting.

What fact did you not know of? Check out the 20 Top Facts About Australian Wildlife You Didn’t Know.

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