African Bush Elephant

African Bush Elephant Loxodonta africana

Type of Animal:

Savanna, floodplains, forests, plains, grasslands, shrubland, desert, semi-desert, woodlands, scrub forest, marshes, swamps, agricultural areas, river valleys, wetlands

Most of Sub-Saharan Africa

Tusks present in bulls & cows but biggest on mature bulls, bulls larger than cows, big ears shaped like African continent, long trunk, big legs. Largest land mammals.

Grasses, herbs, leaves, fruit, bark, shrubs, trees, vegetables, vines, tubers, tree limbs, roots, twigs

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Basic family herds led by dominant, oldest cow known as matriarch & also consist of 8-10 related cows, calves & juveniles plus 2-3 sub-adult bulls under ages of 10. Different family herds come together forming clans of up to 50 elephants. Several clans come together in migrations forming mega herds up to 1,000 elephants. Young bulls leave family herd between ages 8 and 12 while cows stay with family herd for life. Bulls solitary or in bachelor herds of 2-15 animals. 

Additional Info:


Male-5-8 tons
Female-3.5-5 tons
Young-1,200 lbs

Up to 2 years

Male-10-12 ft
Female-8.5-10 ft
Young-3-6 ft

Body Length:
Male-18-24 ft
Female-16-18 ft

Life Span:
Up to 60-70 years

Tail Length:
3-5 ft, same for both sexes

Due to large size, adults have no predators except for occasions of prides of lions taking adult cows. Sub-adults preyed on by lions, crocodiles, & hyenas. Wild dogs & leopards prey on calves.

Declining in some areas while increasing in others. Declining in some areas due to poaching for ivory/meat/skin, habitat loss, deforestation, & persecution as crop pests.

Bulls fight to death by ramming and goring each other w/ tusks.

Cows sexually mature at 8 years old, bulls at 10 years old.

A few years after reaching sexual maturity, bulls go into 1st musth (hormonal state marked by increased aggression). Bull secretes fluid from temporal gland between eye & ear & often rub head on trees/bushes to spread scent. They’re extremely aggressive & dangerous at this time.

Feet are quite sensitive, able to detect vibrations through ground.

Trunk has multiple purposes, such as smelling, grabbing things, drinking, breathing, trumpeting, & snorkeling.

Fun Fact(s):
Some people believe elephants never forget.

MORE ANIMAL HANDLERS KILLED BY ELEPHANTS THAN ANY OTHER ANIMAL- The worst culprits are bulls in musth (periodic condition in bulls resulting in testosterone levels 60 times higher than usual), cows w/ calves, & abused elephants. Other aggression risks are from individuals that are plain aggressive, regardless of sex. Sometimes whole family herd defends calves. They have wide range of temperaments.

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