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Asian and African Elephants

Asian and African Elephants

While Asian and African elephants may appear similar in appearance, there are many differences that separate these two types of elephants. Both types have physical characteristics and adaptations that differ, making them better suited to their individual habitats. Understanding the differences between African and Asian elephants can help you to understand how they survive in the wild and live in harmony with nature.

Weight & Height

The Asian elephant is the smaller of the two elephants, weighing in at 3.25 to 5.5 tons. The African elephant weighs between 5.5 and 7 tons, making it anywhere from 100-3,000 pounds heavier than an Asian elephant. The African elephant is also taller than the Asian elephant with a height of 10-13 feet. The Asian elephant is only 7-12 feet tall. The differences in size between the two types of elephants are likely due to their heritage and natural habitat.

Physical Characteristics & Adaptations

There are several differences in some of the characteristics and physical adaptations that Asian and African elephants have. The Asian elephant has smaller ears than its African counterpart even though they both serve to cool the elephant when it gets too warm. The African elephant has only three toes on each hind foot, but the Asian elephant has four toes on each of the hind feet. The African elephant's back is curved while the Asian elephant's back is humped. Both types of elephants use their trunks to help them with daily activities like bathing with water, eating, and communicating with other elephants. However, the African elephant has two extremities coming from the trunk while the Asian elephant only has one. Almost all African elephants have tusks, even the females. In contrast, most female Asian elephants do not have tusks. If they do, the tusks are barely visible.

Domestic Use

There is a big difference in how African and Asian elephants have been used for domestic purposes. Asian elephants have been used for domestic purposes for many centuries. The people of Asia often use elephants as ceremonial animals and may ride these elephants during special ceremonies. Some Asian elephants have been used as working elephants for help with milling and other industrial activities. Because elephants are so tall and heavy, they are often used in forestry to knock down small trees, brush, shrubs, and undergrowth to make it easier for foresting to take place.


Asian and African elephants behave similarly, but because their bodies are different, there are some minor differences in behavior. While female African elephants have tusks and can cut down shrubs and trees, the female Asian elephant usually does not have tusks. This may change a female's behavior when she encounters obstacles on the migratory paths that groups of elephants travel together. The differences in physical adaptations on each type of elephant also make a difference in behavior.

Elephants are truly beautiful animals that are a joy to observe. If you're interested in learning more about nature and wildlife, elephants should be at the top of your list.

Source by Michael Tasner

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