Interesting facts about African bush elephants

african bush elephants

The African bush elephant also known as the African savanna elephant is one of three elephant species.

It is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, distributed across 37 African countries.

The African bush elephant inhabits forests, grasslands and woodlands, wetlands and agricultural land.

It is found from sea level to an altitude of 4,000 m (about 13,000 ft).

The maximum lifespan of the African bush elephant is between 70 and 75 years.


The African bush elephant is the largest and heaviest land animal on Earth, being up to 3.96 m (13 ft) tall at the shoulder and an estimated weight of up to 10.4 t (11.5 short tons).

On average, males are about 3.20 m (10.5 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 6 tonnes (6.6 short tons), while females are much smaller at about 2.60 m (8.53 ft) tall at the shoulder and 3 tonnes (3.3 short tons) in weight.

The African bush elephant has creased grey skin that can be up to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) thick on some parts of its body. And even though it’s thick, an elephant’s skin is also very sensitive to touch and sunburn. It is so sensitive that it can feel a fly landing on it.

african bush elephant

Its large ears cover the whole shoulder. They can grow as large as 2 m × 1.5 m (6.6 ft × 4.9 ft). Large ears help to reduce body heat; flapping them creates air currents and exposes the ears’ inner sides where large blood vessels increase heat loss during hot weather.

The trunk is a prehensile elongation of its upper lip and nose. It is thought to be manipulated by about 40–60,000 muscles. Because of this muscular structure, the trunk is so strong that elephants can use it for lifting about 3% of their own body weight.

Both sexes have tusks, which erupt when they are 1–3 years old and grow throughout life. The longest known tusk of an African bush elephant measured 3.51 m (11.5 ft) and weighed 117 kg (258 lb).


The African bush elephant have the largest brain of any land animal, and three times as many neurons as humans. The brain of an elephant weighs 4.5 to 5.5 kg (10 to 12 lb) compared to 1.6 kg (4 lb) for a human brain. While the elephant brain is larger overall, it is proportionally smaller.

African bush elephants are social animals. They live in a matriarchal society; that is, one that is led by a head cow, who presides over her herd of females. Each herd is made up of mothers, daughters, sisters and aunts. They are guided by the oldest and largest female of the herd. This herd sticks closely together, rejoicing at the birth of a calf and mourning at the death of a member.


The male, on the other hand, lives apart from the matriarchal herd, and travels alone or with other males in a bachelor pod.

They can communicate over large distances and use some vocalisations that are below the range of human hearing. Elephants can hear these low frequency sounds up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) away.

African bush elephants generally are slow moving creatures. Their regular pace is 6 km/h (4 mph) but, they can reach speeds of up to 24 km/h (15 mph) when running.


How much they travel each day depends on the amount of resources in close proximity that they require. The average walking distance for African bush elephants is around 10 km (6 mi) a day. When resources are scarce, African bush elephants may travel as much as 40 km (25 mi) a day.

These elephants are active animals for the majority of time in a 24-hour period, due to the amount of food they must consume each day. They are dormant in the early morning hours with an additional sleep midday for a total of 4 hours of sleep every day.

African bush elephants are herbivorous. Their diet consists mainly of grasses, creepers and herbs. Adults can consume up to 150 kg (330 lb) per day. During the dry season, the diet also includes leaves and bark. They spend up to 16 hours a day collecting plant food.

african bush elephants eating

These elephants love water. They like to swim, dive into the water and find great fun in fighting the waves. It also gives their joints a break with the buoyancy they get from the water.

African bush elephants mate during the rainy season. Gestation lasts 22 months. The newborn elephant is about 85 cm (33 in) tall and weighs about 120 kg (260 lb). It can stand up shortly after the birth. The little one uses its mouth to drink its mother’s milk, so it doesn’t need a long trunk to feed. Calves stick close to Mom and nurse frequently; they gain, on average, 1 to 1.3 kg (2 to 3 lb) a day in their first year!

elephant cub

Due to their size, African bush elephants are not easy prey for many predators. While lions, African wild dogs, hyenas, and Nile crocodiles are predators of African bush elephants, the majority of these predators prey on the young elephants that lag behind the rest of their group.

Since 2004, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

It is threatened foremost by habitat destruction, and in parts of its range also by poaching for meat and ivory.


The word “elephant” comes from the Greek word elephas which means “ivory”.

Until recently, the African forest elephant was considered to be a subspecies of the African bush elephant, but new research discovered that they are actually a separate species entirely.

You can tall whether is African or Asian species by the shape of their ears. Two species from Africa have large ears shaped like the continent of Africa while Asian species have smaller ears shaped like India.

The social behavior of elephants in captivity mimics that of those in the wild. Females are kept with other females, in groups, while males tend to be separated from their mothers at a young age, and are kept apart.

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