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African Elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Fact Sheet, 2008   Tags: africa, asia, conservation, elephant, fact sheet, forest, infrasound, ivory, mammal, san diego zoo, savanna, sdzg, trunk  

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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African Elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Fact Sheet, 2008

Image Credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Cuvier (1825)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Proboscidea

Family: Elephantidae

Genus: Loxodonta

Species: Loxodonta africana - African savanna or African bush elephant
Species: Loxodonta cyclotis - African forest elephant

Body Weight:
Savanna elephant: 2400-6300 kg (5291-13,889 lb)**
Forest elephant:
2,700-6,000 kg (4,409-9,921 lb)**

Shoulder Height:
Savanna elephant: 2.2m-4 m (10-13 ft)
Forest elephant: 1.8-2.8 m (6-9 ft)

1.8-2 m (6-6.5 ft)

Tusks: 2-3 m

**Males heavier than females.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology
Savanna elephant: central & western Africa
Forest elephant: central & eastern Africa

Savanna elephant: grassy plains & bushlands
Forest elephant: rainforest

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

CITES Appendix: Appendix I; some populations listed on Appendix II, depending upon location

Population in Wild:  500,000
Activity Cycle: Diurnal and nocturnal. Feed 16 hours and sleep 4-5 hours.

Social Groups: matriarchal groups of 6-14

Diet: Herbivorous. Savanna elephants are considered "browsers" while forest elephants are more characteristically "grazers"

Predators: humans
Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights
Sexual Maturity: Males mature late, c. 12-15 years, compared with females that reach maturity c. 10-11 years of age.

Gestation: 22 months

Litter Size: A single calf.

Birth weight: 90-120 kg (198-265 lbs)

Age at Weaning: 2-3 years

Longevity: wild up to 60 years
Feature Facts: The large, complex brain of an elephant is matched only by that of a primate or a cetacean.

Society Press: First Asian Elephants (Empress and Queenie) arrived at San Diego Zoo in 1923, ridden by Frank Buck and Harry Wegeforth from the Santa Fe  Station to the Zoo. The Zoo’s first African elephant, baby Peaches arrived 9/21/58.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2008-2016 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates in May 2015. Taxonomic update in July 2016.

How to cite: African Elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Fact Sheet, 2008. c2008-2016. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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