Elephant Talk! Everything you need know!
Wildlife enthusiast and keen blogger Anshul talks below of the differences between African and Asian elephants! Swaziland is probably best known of course fot its Rhinos - though Elephants are easily spotted if in the right places!
"The elephants are the largest terrestrial mammals on the planet. This animal belongs to Elephantidae family and Proboscidea order. They are the herbivorous creatures found in the habitats, including forests, savannahs, marshes and deserts. The giants are simply recognized by their trunk that is used for handling objects and doing the communication. They have a poor eyesight, but a good sense of smelling and hearing.
There are two types of elephant species: Asian and African. The highest numbers of Asian elephants are found in India and the Asian elephant is one of the three recognized subspecies of Asian elephants. The Asian elephant is of genus Elephas Maximus Indicus.
African elephants are of Loxodonta genus, consisting the two existing species- Smaller African Forest Elephant and the African Bush Elephant. They are found in 37 countries of the African continent.
Differences between African and Asian Elephants: Both the species are the members of the same taxonomic family, but of different genera. The major differences between the two are:
Size: The African elephants are considerably larger than the Asian ones. Adult males of the Africans grow up to 4m in height while the biggest Asian male elephants reach up to only 3.5m.
Weight: The African species weigh between 4000-7500kg whereas the Asians are about 3000-6000kg in weight.
Head Shape: The head of African elephants is fuller and more rounded. It is not furrowed from the front to the back and there are no humped structures or dents in the head. The top of the head in Africans is single-dome. In Asians, the head is furrowed to the back. There are the humped structures on the top of the head and the forehead is dented. The lower lips of the two also differ being short and round in Africans and long and tapered in Asians.
- Skin: Skin of the Asian species is smoother than the African one. The skin of African elephants is wrinkled.
- Ribs: The Asian elephants have lesser number of ribs than the Africans. They have around 20 pairs whereas the Africans have up to 21 pairs.
- The size of the Ears: African ears are like the African map whereas the Asian ears are smaller in comparison. African ears reach over the neck while the Asian ears don’t.
- Tusks: All the African species, either male or female, have tusks. Males have bigger tusks than the females. In the Asian species, only in some cases, the males have tusks. About half of the females and a small percentage of males, have small tusk-like teeth known as ‘tushes’.
- Teeth: Teeth are lamella profile. The top of the molar teeth of the two species is different with edges being a diamond-shaped in Africans and strongly compressed in Asians.
- The Trunk: The African species have the trunk with more rings than the Asians. The trunk of Asian elephants is harder. There are two fingers at the end of the African trunk whereas the Asians have only one finger in the trunk end.
- The shape of the belly: Belly is transversely downwards in the direction of the hind legs in African species. In Asians, it is almost straight or drooping in the middle.
- The shape of the back: The back of the Africans is concave while the Asian species have convex or straight backs.
- Toenails: In Africans, there are 4-5 toenails in the forelegs and 3-4 toenails in the hind legs. There are 5 toenails in forelegs and 4-5 toenails in the hind legs of Asian elephants.
- Diet: The African elephants mainly consume leaves whereas the Asian elephant’s diet consists of grass.
Elephants are the miraculous creatures. It is an alarming fact that this majestic creature known for its memory is on the brink of an extinction. Both the species of elephant are being killed extensively for their tusks. Many wildlife sanctuaries are being set up in India to ensure the long-term survival of this endangered animal. Their extinction will be hazardous to humans as well, thus, the proper steps should be taken to save this majestic and mammoth creature."