African elephants are bigger than their Asian counterparts and therefore the largest living land animals. Until recently there was only a single species of elephant in Africa. The former subspecies, known as forest elephants, have now been recognised as a full species and the original species renamed bush, or savannah, elephants.
The smaller forest elephants have straighter trunks and rounded ears compared to the bush elephant. They are also separated by location and habitats, with forest elephants found in the equatorial forests of central and west Africa, particularly in the Congo basin. Bush elephants are more widespread, mostly south of the Sahara in a range of different habitats including savannah, swamps and deserts.
Scientific name: Loxodonta
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
African elephants are the elephants of the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth'), consisting of two extant species: the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. Loxodonta is one of the two existing genera in the family Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it "Loxodonte". An anonymous author romanized the spelling to "Loxodonta", and the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) recognizes this as the proper authority.
Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.