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African Elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Fact Sheet
Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.
Species: Loxodonta africana - African savanna or African bush elephant
Species: Loxodonta cyclotis - African forest elephant
Savanna elephant: 2400-6300 kg (5291-13,889 lb)**
Forest elephant: 2,700-6,000 kg (5952-13,228 lb)**
Savanna elephant: 2.2m-4 m (10-13 ft)
Forest elephant: 1.8-2.8 m (6-9 ft)
Trunk: 1.8-2 m (6-6.6 ft)
Tusks: 2-3 m
**Males heavier than females.
|Distribution & Status
||Behavior & Ecology
Savanna elephant: Areas of East, Central and Southern Africa
Forest elephant: The Congo basin and West Africa
Savanna elephant: grassy plains & bushlands
Forest elephant: rainforest
African savanna elephant (L. africana): Endangered
African forest elephant (L. cyclotis): Critically Endangered
Appendix I, except for populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, which are included in Appendix II.
Population in Wild: Approximately 415,000 individuals estimated by systematic surveys; possibly an additional 117,000 in non-surveyed areas
|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"
|Reproduction & Development
|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
- The large, complex brain of an elephant is matched only by that of a primate or a cetacean.
- Largest living land mammal.
- Ears are 2x size of Asian elephants
- Strong evidence of 2 distinct sub-species: L. cyclotis (forest elephant) and L. africana (savanna elephant).
- Groups are matriarchal with males leaving in their teens.
- Vulnerable status mainly from conversion of land to farming and mining, and poaching for ivory trade.
- Populations are managed in protected areas. Community-based conservation initiatives are important.
- Maintenance of wildlife corridors will be crucial to allow movement.
- 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
© 2008-2021 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Minor updates in May 2015. Taxonomic update July 2016. Population estimates updated Sep 2018. IUCN Status updated Mar 2021.
How to cite: African Elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis) Fact Sheet. c2008-2021. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ african_elephant.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed)
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