Scientists estimated that there once was over 350, yes three-hundred and fifty, different types of elephants in the world. Today, however, we have a sad number of two different species of them. Those two types are the African and Asian Elephants. Both of these two species of elephants are at risk of extinction if measures aren't pushed to protect them from illegal hunting and ivory trades. If you take a look at the two species, there are many differences. Within these two species, there are also sub-species that will be explored as well in this section. Browse below to see the differences between the species!

The African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) is the largest of the two remaining species on the planet. They have extremely large ears, and both males and females grow tusks. These types of elephants can get more than 12 feet tall and can weigh about 14,000 lbs. The majority of these Elephants live in the Savannah Desert, but the other sub-species spend their time in the thick forests. They usually are in herds of about 12-20 of them at a time, but will connect with the larger group. Many times there are male loners who don't want to be apart of the larger group.

African Elephants can identify the bones of a dead elephant that was in their group. They can show sorrow and other emotions as well. The females tend to stay in the same group their entire lives, and show more emotions to death than the males. These elephants eat about 500 lbs every day, consuming plants, tree bark, fruits, and other vegetation they can find in the desert. Sometimes they can spend 12 hours a day eating.

These elephants do not have any natural predators besides for humans. Conservation against human activities are the only things that can stop the illegal hunting and selling of ivory. It is especially important to keep humans away during rainy seasons because this is when reproduction starts happening. Females need about four years with their offspring before they feel comfortable letting them go off on their own.

The Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) has a huge body but with smaller ears than African Elephants. The males develop tusks, but the females will not. Full grown males reach about 12 feet tall and weigh 11,000 lbs, while females are shorter by a few feet and weigh less by a few thousand lbs. They are overall smaller than the other elephant species. These elephants are found in the areas of Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh. Due to drastic changes in their environment they are now also found in Indochina, Nepal, and even some areas of Indonesia. It is believed that there are only about 50,000 of them left in the wild, which is a lot smaller than the 400,000 African Elephants left.

Asian Elephants are extremely smart, and form life long bonds between each other. They spend a great deal of time playing and interacting with one another. They move to find food because their habitats are destroyed a lot. They are herbivores that eat about 300-600 lbs of food a day. During mating seasons, both the males and females give off scents that attract them to one another. Females aren't ready to mate until about 14 years old, but many wait till about 25 (oddly similar to humans!) Males mate from ages 35-50 due to competition and waiting for their rights to do so.

Once again, the only predator to these animals are humans. Although it is illegal to hunt Asian Elephants, it continues to take place for sport and for tusks. Because only males have tusks, it is hard for females to find mates with the males drastically depleting.

Overall, to sum this up, here are the basic and key differences to distinguish the two species:

✣ African Elephants have large ears, shaped much like the continent of Africa itself, which helps to cool them from the heat. Asian Elephants do not have to worry about the heat as much, so they have smaller ears.
✣ African Elephants have a rounder head with a single dome at the top of their head. Asian Elephants have a twin domed head with an indent in the middle.
✣ For African Elephants, both the male and females grow tusks. For the Asian Elephants, only the males grow tusks.

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