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What’s the Difference Between African and Asian Elephants

According to the WWF, the population of African elephants is around 415,000 animals, whereas there are less than 50,000 Asian elephants left on Earth. Despite such a tremendous difference, both kinds are under the threat of disappearance due to deforestation and poaching. Maybe, if we knew these animals better, we would pay more attention to them.

5-Minute Crafts will teach you the difference between African and Asian elephants based on 7 parameters.

1. Height and weight

  • African elephants are the biggest animals on land. Their height can reach 4 meters and their weight can be over 6 tons. By 25 years old, males are twice as heavy as females but both males and females continue growing throughout their entire lives.
  • On average, Asian elephants can reach up to 2.75 meters and weigh up to 4 tons. The difference between different genders is less obvious than their African counterparts.

💡 The highest point of Asian elephants is on the head and African — on the shoulders.

2. Head shape

  • African elephants have a more rounded head shape and the upper part is smooth.
  • Asian elephants have 2 domes on their head that have a deepening in the center.

3. Size and shape of the ears

  • African elephants have big ears that look a little bit like the continent they live on. By waving them, they reduce the temperature of their bodies. They create a flow of air to cool down the inner part of their ears where the big blood vessels are.
  • Asian elephants have smaller ears with edges that look folded.

4. Tusks

Using their tusks, elephants get food and water, fight, and remove the bark from trees. They can also use them in drought seasons to create places to drink.

  • Both male and female African elephants have tusks. Bush elephants have curved tusks, and forest elephants have straight ones. They can be around 1.5–2.4 meters long. They keep growing their entire lives.
  • Only male Asian elephants have tusks. Females have fangs but they are hard to see unless their mouth is open.

5. Trunk

  • African elephants have 2 “fingers” on their trunks that they use to grab small objects. They also have small tactile hairs on them. The trunks are so strong that they can lift objects that weigh about 3% of their body weight.
  • Asian elephants, like African ones, also have trunks that are basically elongated noses and upper lips. But at the end, they have only one finger-like tip.

6. Skin

  • African elephants have skin with small cracks. Small cracks hold water that helps them avoid dehydration.
  • Asian elephants have smoother skin. It may be depigmented on their bodies, ears, and necks. The folds on the skin allow for better thermal regulation.
  • African bush elephants have concaved backs. Forest elephants have almost completely straight backs.
  • Asian elephants can have convex and straight backs.
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