African savannah elephants
africana africana) live for 55-60 years (over 80 years in captivity).
The males are bigger than the females , with a
head-body length of 6-7.5m (females 0.6m shorter); a
shoulder height of 3-3.4m (female 2.7m), and weigh 6
tonnes (female 3 tonnes).
African elephants live in matriarchal groups of
pre-pubescent males and females of all ages. The
oldest female in the group guides the family unit,
joined by adult males only for mating when the
females are in oestrus.
African elephants are the largest of the
elephant species, making them the largest land
animal in the world. They have four toes on the
forefeet and five toes on the hindfeet. The skin is
grey, with a little covering of hair.
African elephants eat bark, fruit, grass and
leaves. They will push down trees to eat from them.
Water is essential and they can consume up to 50
gallons a day.
African Elephants are the only animals in Africa
that dig deep holes in search of water. The holes,
excavated using the trunk, can be several feet deep
and it's thought that the locations are learned from
social interactions. Elephants are also very fond of
After they are about eight years old,
male elephants enter an annual condition
called musth (meaning 'madness') which is
marked by secretions from a gland behind the
eye. They become more aggressive and
sexually excited at this time.
is no breeding season. Females breed every
four years and are only receptive for
between 3-6 days, so bulls in musth need to
be alert to the location of receptive
females. They listen for the females
tummy-rumbles that can be heard from many
When mating takes place, the entire
family takes part in a noisy melee known as
the mating pandemonium, during which they
rush about in an agitated state and trumpet
The gestation period is 22 months long.
The females can remain fertile throughout
their adult life.
The most notable difference between
African elephants and Asian (Indian)
elephants is that African elephants have
larger ears and tusks.
There were once thought to be two
subspecies of African elephant: Loxodonta
africana africana (savannah elephant) and
Loxodonta africana cyclotis (forest
elephant), but recent research has meant
they have been reclassified as two separate
species named Loxodonta africana and