African elephants are the largest land mammals in the world. There are three species of elephants: the African savannah elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant.
The African savannah elephant is larger than the African forest elephant. Both are larger than the Asian elephant. The savannah elephant stands 13 to 16 feet (4-5m) tall and weighs about 3 to 6 tons (1.8-6 tonnes). The forest elephant stands up to 11 feet (3.5m) tall and weighs 2½ to 4 tons (2.7-4.2 tonnes).
Savannah elephants–also known as bush elephants–live in various habitats from the desert to the high rain forest. The forest elephant is found deep in the rain forest where vegetation is dense.
The African savannah elephant has large ears that resemble the shape of the African continent. The forest elephant has rounded ears. The forest elephant is darker than the savannah elephant and has a hairier trunk.
The tusks of the savannah elephant are white and forward and upward curving. The tusks of the forest elephant are yellow or brownish, straight, and downward pointed. (The tusks of the Asian elephant are small and may be absent in some females.)
An elephant’s most distinctive feature is its trunk. The trunk is a flexible elongation of the upper lip and nose. It contains thousands of muscle fibers. The elephant uses its trunk to pull up grass and pull down branches to feed. The trunk can also be used to squirt water or dust. An adult African elephant eats about 350 pounds (160kg) of food each day.
Elephants live 65 to 70 years–longer than any other mammals except humans.
The scientific name of the African savannah elephant is Loxodonta africana. The scientific name of the forest elephant is Loxodonta cyclotis.
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