African Elephants and Asian Elephants

About African Elephants

African ElephantsConservation Status

African Savanna (or bush) elephant

IUCN Red List: Endangered

African Forest Elephants

IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered

Note: Previously, IUCN listed both African elephants as “vulnerable”.But now it has opted to list them separately. It is after genetic evidence has proved that both are different species.


The distribution of African elephants is throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and the rainforests of Central and West Africa.

African Savanna (or bush) elephant: They are larger animals that roam the plains of sub-Saharan Africa.

African Forest Elephants: They are smaller animals that live in the forests of Central and West Africa.


  • African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are slightly larger than Asian Elephants and can be identified by their larger ears. (Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears)
  • Elephants are matriarchal. It means they live in female-led groups. The matriarch is usually the biggest and oldest.
  • Keystone Species: African elephants are keystone species, i.e., they play a critical role in their ecosystem. They are also known as “ecosystem engineers” as they shape their habitat in many ways.
About Asian Elephants

Asian ElephantsThe Asian elephant is the largest land mammal on the Asian continent. They inhabit dry to wet forest and grassland habitats in 13 range countries spanning South and Southeast Asia.

  • IUCN Red List: Endangered 
  • CITES: Appendix I.
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I.

Habitat: In India, the Asian elephant is found in four fragmented populations, in the south, north, central and north-east of India.

Their habitat ranges from wet tropical evergreen forests to semi-arid thorn and scrub forests. However, the highest densities of the elephant population are found in tropical deciduous forests.

Significance: Asian elephants are extremely sociable, forming groups of six to seven related females that are led by the oldest female, the matriarch.

Subspecies: There are three subspecies of Asian elephants – the Indian, Sumatran, and Sri Lankan. The Indian has the widest range and accounts for the majority of the remaining elephants on the continent.

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