Three classes of proboscideans are known (order of placental mammals, which includes elephants). Two live on the African continent: the Lexodonta cyclotis (forest elephant) and the Lexodonta africana (savanna elephant), but both are generically grouped as African elephants as they differ only in size. The third species is the Elephas maximus or Asian elephant or Indian elephant (although it is in more Asian countries), the largest mammal in Asia.
These elephants are the largest land animals and mammals on Earth, second only to the blue whale , but there are subtle differences between them.
Habitat of the African and Asian elephants
One of the primary differences between these animals is their habitat.
African elephant habitat
The African elephants extend their habitat throughout the African continent , except the north and the desert. These animals are continuously on the move through the jungle or forest and the savannah and travel great distances in search of water and food.
Habitat of the Asian elephant
On the contrary, the Asian elephant is concentrated in few points of Southeast Asia , in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Borneo, Sumatra or Bangladesh. However, many centuries ago these elephants extended further north, reaching China, but with the passage of time they have been relegated to other territories due to the destruction of their habitat and their hunting.
The African elephant is the largest land animal , measuring up to 3.5 meters high and almost 7 meters long and weighing between 5 and 6 tons.
For its part, the Asian elephant is somewhat smaller, reaching 2 meters in height and weighing up to 5 tons. Asian elephants are also large animals, but not as large as the African.
There are differences in the size of the tusks between both species, so in the African elephant both the females and the males have long ivory tusks and in the Asian elephant only the males have tusks, while in the females they do not all grow and they are usually small in size.
Another major difference between the two elephants is the final section of their trunk, in the Asian elephant’s trunk it has one movable lobe , while the African has two . Therefore, the African elephant’s trunk looks like a hand and makes it easier for him to grasp objects. Both types of elephants move and grasp objects to bring them to their mouths with both types of trunks without problems. They also collect water to drink.
The Asian elephant’s ears are rounded and small compared to its body, which barely covers the entire head. In contrast, the African elephant’s ears are larger and reach further behind the shoulders.
The reason for this difference can be found in the use: African elephants use their ears to dissipate body heat and use them as a fan, since on the African continent they live in more extreme conditions than in Asia.
Another difference that not many people know of these two large mammals is in the back and in the shoulders. In the Asian elephant the back is arched , so its back is the highest part of its body. In contrast, the African elephant has a straighter back and descends from the shoulders. Behind your head is the highest area of your back, which can even give the impression of being sunken.
The legs and tail of Asian and African elephants
The main difference in the legs of African and Asian elephants is in their toes: the African elephant has 4 or 5 toes on the front legs and 3 on the back, while the Asian elephant has 5 on the front and 4 on the back. .
The tail is very similar in the two species, so it is not easy to differentiate them just because of this. The Asian elephant has a longer tail in relation to the body than the African.
African and Asian elephants are in danger of extinction . Both species are endangered mainly due to the following main causes:
- Poaching , as it kills them to use the ivory for their tusks.
- Another threat to their conservation is the destruction of their habitat, either to create pastures for livestock or to build houses for people.
- Global pollution.
Similarities between African and Asian elephants
Finally, we want to also mention some of the main similarities of African and Asian elephants :
- Both species are the largest land-dwelling mammals on our planet.
- They are intelligent and sociable animals .
- Both species live in groups , but are also sociable with other animals.
- With regard to their intelligence, the “elephant memory” is known, since they are capable of remembering specific people and animals, individuals, and places.
- What the elephants of these two species eat is also a similarity, as they are both herbivores and eat large amounts of vegetation on a daily basis.