The Biggest of the Big Five-The African Elephant

Elephants are exotic creatures and favored by millions all over the globe. What do you really know about the African elephant in particular? We find ourselves smitten with everything ‘African ellie’ but here are some interesting facts about one of the famous Big 5:

  • African elephants are the largest land animals on earth. That’s a pretty big deal. Pun intended. They are slightly larger than their cousins, the Asian Elephants and you can usually tell the difference by the size of their ears. Interestingly enough, the African elephants ears are almost shaped like the African continent.
  • African elephants are divided into two subspecies, savannah (or bush) and forest elephant.


  • Elephants are extremely fond of water, especially using their trunks as their own personal shower heads. But after their shower, they then spray a layer of dust on their skin for protection. It’s their sunscreen.
  • The trunk of an elephant has a whopping 100 000 muscles, used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking and grabbing/holding. The African Elephant has two finger like features at the end of its trunk (it helps when grabbing the smaller things) while the Asian elephant only has one.


  • Both male and female African Elephants have tusks used to dig for food and water and strip bark off trees and the males also use theirs to battle each other. It’s quite a sight when two of the largest land mammals go head to head, literally.
  • An adult African elephant can consume up to 300 pounds (136 Kilograms) of food in a single day!
  • These beautiful beasts don’t sleep very much and roam over great distances to forage food to sustain their enormous appetites. Hungry wanderers we say.


  • Female elephants live in family herds with their young, while the adult males tend to traverse alone.
  • Having the cutest babies is serious business as the mother is pregnant for almost 22 months! That’s one calf every two to four years and when the baby is born, it can weigh up to 200 pounds (91 kilograms) and stand at about 3 feet (1 metre) tall.


  • If you don’t know this already, elephants are incredibly intelligent and have memories that can span for many years. It’s this memory that serves them well when they need to find waterholes that they have previously visited. They also display signs of grief, joy, anger and play.
  • Discoveries have shown that elephants can communicate over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that can travel over the ground faster than sound through the air. Other elephants receive the messages through the sensitive skin on their feet and trunks. It is believed that this is how potential mates and social groups communicate.
  • Elephant populations across Africa are performing differently, some are secure and some remain endangered. Southern Africa is the stronghold for the species with large and growing populations. Today the species is still threatened by illegal hunting for meat and ivory.

Our beautiful African elephant photo’s were taken in the iconic Kruger National Park. if you want to see the majesty that is the African elephant for yourself, get in touch with us and book a trip, and we’ll make sure you see the rest of the Big 5 too.  

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