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African Elephant Facts and Habitat For Kids


An African elephant is a member of the Elephantidae family. The only other surviving mammal in the Elephantidae family is the Asian Elephants. African elephants are some of the largest land mammals on Earth, and have evolved over millions of years. The species was highly threatened in the 19th and 20th centuries by poachers, who made work of killing elephants for their ivory tusks. This was outlawed in 1989, which greatly reduced the volume of ivory poached, however illegal activity continues.

What is the scientific Classification of an African Elephant?

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Proboscidea

Family: Elephantidae

Genus: Loxodonta

Species: L. africana and L. cyclotis

Quick Fun Facts About African Elephants

What is a baby African Elephant known as: Calf

Female African Elephants are called: Fat cow or cow

Male African Elephants are called: Bull

A group of African Elephants is called: A herd

How tall is an African Elephant? 
Males: 10-13 feet
Females: 7-8.5 feet

How much does an African Elephant weigh? 
Males: 10,000-13,300 lbs
Females: 4,800-7,100 lbs

African Elephants Color: Brownish-grey

Life Expectancy of African Elephants: 50-70 years in the wild, 17 years in captivity

Latin Name: Loxodonta africana (African bush elephant) or Loxodonta cyclotis (African forest elephant)

Conservation Status of African Elephants: Vulnerable

Location of African Elephants

AfricaAngola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

African Elephants Breeding

Female elephants usually begin to breed when they are around 13 years old. The cows (female elephants) give off scent signals when they are ready to breed and try to attract the largest, strongest and oldest male they can find. The larger, stronger and older the male is, the greater the elephant calf’s chance of survival. The cow is then pregnant for 22 months. When the baby is finally born, it weighs around 250 to 300 pounds and measures between 2 ½ and 3 feet tall. All the females in the herd raise the calf together. Oftentimes, the mother assigns certain females to take care of her calf, which allows the mother to go in search of food, so that she can eat well enough to provide adequate and nutritious milk for her baby.

Predators of the African Elephant

African elephants do not have any natural predators, according to researchers. Lions, tigers, hyenas and other fast carnivorous animals have been known to occasionally attach elephants. However, because African elephants travel in herds, they are very safe. Their large size intimidates any would-be attackers, and if one member of the herd is attacked, the other elephants join in to protect the elephant that was harmed. The most vulnerable elephants are babies who are still learning they ways of the world, and elderly or sick elephants that might not be able to keep up with the pack. These stragglers can be caught alone at times, without the protection of the herd to keep predators away.

What does and African Elephant Look like?

An African Elephant is different than other Elephants found around the world. It is found within Africa and is much larger than the similar Asian Elephants. Like all elephants, the African Elephant is brownish grey in color with a tough leathery skin that protects the animal from the desert and plan elements, and from attacks by prey. The large ears of elephants help to dissipate heat to keep the animals cool, and their long snout is often used as a shower that sprays them with water to keep their body temperature from overheating. One difference between an African Elephant and an Asian elephant is that the African animal has two fingerlike projections on the end of their trunk that they use to pick up small items. The Asian elephant only has one of these fingerlike digits.

Where is an African Elephant Found?

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, elephants are found throughout most of central and southern Africa (see countries listed above). Their habitats within these countries include Guinean Moist Forests, Congolian Coastal Forests, Cameroon Highlands Forests, Congo Basin Moist Forests, Albertine Rift Montane Forests, East African Coastal Forests, Horn of Africa Acacia Savannahs, East African Acacia Savannahs, Central and Eastern Miombo Woodlands, Sudanian Savannahs, Sudd-Sahelian Flooded Grasslands and Savannahs, Zambezian Flooded Savannas, Southern Rift Montane Woodlands, East African Moorlands, Namib-Karoo-Kaokoveld Deserts.

What do African Elephants Eat?

Elephants are herbivores, which means that they eat plants, algae and bacteria. The mammals spend two-thirds of their day eating plants in order to keep their massive bodies energized. Commonly consumed items include leaves, bark, fruits, trees, shrubs, grass and herbs. Because of their ineffective and inefficient digestive systems, elephant’s bodies are only able to make energy out of about 40% of the food that the animals eat. Elephants compensate by eating massive amounts of food daily, ranging from 300 to 600 pounds depending on the size of the animal.