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.
Fossil members of Loxodonta have been found only in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
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